The Eco-warrior is just back from Uluwatu in Bali, Indonesia. Locals in Uluwatu called on James Pribram, "Eco-warrior" because the legendary surf spot stinks -- literally. Trash and sewage mar the beautiful break. So they put up the bat-signal for the Eco-warrior.
Pribram is a surfer turned environmental activist. He travels the globe to help bring attention to ecological problems. The mission this fall, took Pribram to the other side of the globe. Concerned citizens and local surfers in Uluwatu collected garbage and initiated a sewage treatment plan, but they still need to raise more money and attract attention to the problem.
ESPN tracked the warrior down upon his return so he could debrief us about what he accomplished on his mission.
ESPN: So what did you do on your trip to Uluwatu?
Eco-warrior: My trip to Bali was a fact-finding mission about pollution and unregulated trash dumps in the midst of being cleaned up by Curtis Lowe and others. The Rivers, Oceans, Land and Ecology Foundation (R.O.L.E ) had reached out to me to help them gain some international media attention to support the clean up effort.
How was your message received?
I had a very good working with Curtis Lowe who is the only person who seemed to really care about cleaning up the pollution. Apparently some locals were upset, but I don't know exactly why because I never had the opportunity to address those concerns and never found out who they were. It was disappointing because I thought we shared a common goal in cleaning up the area.
What did you find most disturbing?
It's sad when egos get in the way of preserving our oceans and beaches. It was astonishing to see a 80-foot water fall of waste-water. A creek bed that was so toxic it looked like oil and smelled so bad it turned your stomach in an instant. A trash dump of plastics hiding behind a bathroom. Luckily for the people there Curtis Lowe is on top of it and getting things done.
My last day there they did a trash bin distribution for all the store owners who were more than happy to change their ways. Sometimes you just need a leader like Curtis to show people a better way. I believe things will be drastically better there in the very near future.
Anything surprise you there in Uluwatu?
It's a very isolated area where they basically had no trash pick up so they had to do the best that they could. They did that and now with a better infrastructure put in place, it solves the problem of dumping trash. Normally people do not want to litter. However, in some places in the world they don't have the money, nor the infrastructure, nor the resources deal with trash properly. Once they have the option, they happily pick the better course of action.
How long do you think change will take?
Change is already happening as we speak and I saw it firsthand which makes me happy to see someone like Curtis and others making a difference.
What is the planned course of action now?
Well now that stores were all given two trash cans each -- one for organic and one for non-organic waste -- they have a weekly trash pick up in place. They have already started cleaning up the unsanctioned trash dump. That leaves the creek bed for cleaning. Also the water-fall must be handled properly, which may be the most difficult to clean up. But I would say they are more than half way there and by next year Uluwatu will be as good as new.
So, no bouts with infection?
No infections and I had a great time surfing in trunks.
Sounds like the good people of Uluwatu are on the way to conquering the tyranny of trash and toxins.