March 25 - A surfer in Peru is turning plastic bottles into surfboards for local youths who can't afford the real thing. Called the ''Life out of Plastic Initiative'', the project aims not only to teach the kids how to surf, but also the importance of eco-awareness. Ben Gruber reports.
Aspiring surfers along Lima's coast are making waves. Conventional surfboards are built of fiberglass, but these are made of disposable plastic bottles, collected along the beaches near Lima. The boards are inexpensive and eco-friendly. Designer Carlos Pino, says the bottles are helping him make the sport of surfing available to kids who couldn't otherwise afford it. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CARLOS PINO, WHO MAKES SURFBOARDS USING PLASTIC BOTTLES, SAYING: "My childhood was tough. From a young age and thanks to my father, who was a lifeguard, I learnt to swim and respect the sea and above all I learned to surf. But for me, being able to practice this sport was impossible." But for a new generation, practising the sport is now possible, with Pino's hand-made surfboards.. To make the boards, Pino fills the bottles with dry ice to keep them firm and then plasters them together with fiberglass to give them form. He says it takes about 51 bottles to make a board. Jhonny Linares is an experienced surfer. He says Pino's boards are ideal for kids who want to learn.. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SURFER, JHONNY LINARES, SAYING: "I think this surfboard is a good idea for kids. Very good indeed. It's worth it." And Director of the surfing project Nadia Balducci agrees, pointing to the environmental benefits that come with it.. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LIFE OUT OF PLASTIC (LOOP) DIRECTOR, NADIA BALDUCCI, SAYING: "The idea of this project is to create awareness among young people and encourage them to take action against the problem of plastic pollution and doing it through surfing, which connects them to the environment." That connection, says Pino, is what will ensure that the next generation of surfers connects the beauty of their sport with the beauty of their environment.