Radical: Bali's Surfers, Quiksilver, Coca-Cola Form Unlikely Alliance for Environmental Good

Wave-seekers find willing partners in two corporate giants and local NGOs, while hoping to turn the tide on pollution problems.

trash on Indonesian beach

Surfing gear heavyweights Quiksilver and Ripcurl, along with Coca-Cola, are using their brand awareness for good in the emerging economy of Indonesia, focusing on the environment, education, and wildlife habitat restoration.

Coke and Quiksilver plan to spend nearly a collective $1 million annually on an education and environmental cleanup project--an amount that goes far in such a poor country.

Ripcurl is less involved on the ground--they organize about two beach cleanups per year--but Quiksilver and Coke are partnering with local NGOs GUS Organic and the Fresh Air Waves foundation to make sure that environmental education and cleanups are an everyday part of their operations.

Quiksilver’s Asia Pacific marketing leader, Simon MacGregor, is concerned about nearby "trash islands" building up from river debris that eventually makes it out into the ocean. Indeed, giant ocean trash patches are found in other waters, namely further out in the Pacific, between Hawaii and California. That's why he and his colleagues travel from school to school educating youth about the perils of pollution.

Also part of the corporate benevolence is a push for safer turtle breeding.

"We have seen, since we began the cleanups, a rise in the numbers of sea turtles breeding on these beaches, which is great," MacGregor told the Jakarta Post. "But it needs to be remembered that the rubbish we see is just the tip of the sword. We need to look at infrastructure. The biggest landfill here is at Serangan Island. The area now faces major toxic levels in the soil due to dumped plastics."

So Coca-Cola would be wise to also keep up a strict recycling program in the country, lest their plastics surface on the same beaches where they and their partners clean up.

Follow me, Jenara Nerenberg, on Twitter.

[Image: Lawrence Hislop]

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