From June 16 until 22, the state of Bahia in northern Brazil is hosting the first Billabong Surf Eco Festival. Apart from gathering some of the best surfers in the world at Praia do Forte, the festival incorporates a complete set of conferences and activities to provide information and raise awareness about environmental matters.
The conferences include the III Forum on Sustainability Alternatives for the Surf Industry, which will feature the evolution of the Marbras et Mundi project, which we told you about a few years ago in the article Brazil Turning Surf Boards into Sustainable Products. The project is investigating how to recover waste generated in the elaboration of surf boards to bring it back to life in other forms.The Marbras et Mundi project
Paulo Eduardo Antunes and the Marbras et Mundi initiative have been working since 2000 to raise awareness about the danger that waste coming for boards production represents. "This material is inflammable and toxic, but it's disposed with regular garbage and goes into landfills as if it was regular waste. This is a wrong process and generates irreversible damage in the soil," said Antunes in an interview with Boardsports (in Portuguese).
One of the alternatives the project has found over the years is the possibility of converting this waste in concrete blocks for construction: Antunes calculated that 107 tons of that waste can produce 180 thousand of concrete blocks.
"The project is still in an experimental phase due to lack of sponsorship, but in terms of environmental education and awareness in the surf community, it has become a worldwide reference. Various other projects have appeared since the Marbras initiative," said Antunes to TreeHugger. "I hope with the participation in the surf festival I can open one more front for sharing and spreading the word on this social-environmental methodology and encourage local environmental practices."
"There's an undeniable need to find clean production mechanisms for this activity, with not only environmental benefits, but also profitable practices and professional opportunities," said the surfer.
The Billabong Eco-Surf Festival
Apart from the Marbras et Mundi project, the festival is also hosting conferences about coral reefs (as this is the Year of Coral Reefs at Brazil), whales and sea turtles conservation, environmental protection in northern Brazil, and how habits and lifestyle have an impact on the environment.
"WQS Praia do Forte will be a place for debate and initiatives involving various segments of society, in order to promote more life quality and correct environmental practices," said Railton Lemos, organizer of the event, to Surf Bahia (in Portuguese).
For those familiar with surfing terminology, the festival is a 5 Star rated World Qualifying Series (WQS) event for men and women with 140 thousand dollars in awards.
::Billabong Surf Eco Festival official Site (English and Portuguese)
::Billabong Surf Eco Festival Conferences (English)
::For more info on the Marbras et Mundi project, contact Paulo Aduardo Antunes by e-mail at pauloeduantunes at hotmail dot com