20 July 2009

the Greening of the Billabong Pro in Jeffrey's Bay

Every year I attend the Association of Surfing Professionals Billabong Pro which is held in the small town of Jeffrey's Bay in South Africa. They were very proud to announce the greening of the contest with carbon footprint reduction, waste recycling, use of solar heating etc. It made me decide to produce an illustrated article on the greening of the competition and the concept made me feel good until I saw the recycling bins being emptied into the town's garbage removal truck.

Of course I got irritated and spoke to the media people and of course I didn't find the right person and decide to overdose on Billabong's coffee and photograph the surfing. The surfing was great but I couldn't let the apparently false claims of an environmentally correct event carry on. I contacted people and to my amazement got a feasable answer - the town's municipality were told their services were not required but arrived early one morning and started mixing the sorted waste in front of one confused photographer (me). Apparently they were chased away and the recycling was done in the correct way.

There is very limited recycling in South Africa and it is great that Billabong went green to reduce the impact of the event on the environment. I just wonder how the surf industry is going change the toxic materials that are used to manufacture surfboards - I did see a new board with a bamboo deck last week - so maybe things are changing for the better....

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