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Bondies get on board Brazilian recycling initiative

When Brazilian physical education teachers Renata Marcadella and Niel Terme saw a cultural competition on Facebook to win the chance of a lifetime – a scholarship to study English at Bond University on the Gold Coast - they knew they were in with a chance to win…

Renata and Niel had been involved in an ecological surfboard design project - ‘Projeto Prancha Ecologica’ – for several years in Brazilian schools and universities and seized the opportunity to enter this competition and promote their innovative environmental initiative to the rest of the world.

The program involves collecting and recycling empty plastic bottles (waste) and transforming them into fully-functioning surfboards and paddleboards.

As winners of the competition, which reached 8 million people in Brazil via Facebook, Renata and Niel are currently studying at Bond University English Language Institute (BUELI) and have been making the most of their opportunity to educate and inform Bond’s diverse international student base about the project.

The competition was coordinated by Bond University, Gold Coast Tourism and Study Gold Coast in conjunction with Educational Agency Australia and Go International Student Centre - - which was founded by Bond University’s first Brazilian graduate, Alain Daniel Ruthenberg.

The dynamic duo, Renata and Niel, are passionate about the project and keen to share their knowledge and skills with as many people as possible.

“We both love the surf and nature and really wanted to take this incredibly worthwhile project to other parts of the world,” Niel said.

“We want to educate as many people from as many countries as possible about the importance of conserving the environment, keeping our waterways clean and recycling – and this project achieves all three!”

For the past month, BUELI and Bond College students have been diligently bringing in their empty plastic bottles to recycle, and late last month Renata and Niel conducted a workshop with their classmates to transform the bottles into a functioning surfboard and stand-up paddleboard.

“It takes about 45 bottles to create a surfboard and 97 to create a paddleboard, so we’re really thrilled we were able to build both from the bottles donated by Bond students,” Renata said.

“What was the even more exciting was when we took the boards to the beach for a surf last week!”

Bond College Pro Vice-Chancellor, Pathways and Partnerships Ms Catherine O’Sullivan said it was fabulous to see students working together so enthusiastically on the project.

“Conserving the environment is a cause close to the hearts of all our students, regardless of where in the world they are from,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“Renata and Niel’s program has brought everyone together to learn, share and collaborate in a fun, educational and socially responsible way, which delivers something tangible back to the local community. We’re very proud of them.”

‘Projeto Prancha Ecolgica’ was originally the brainchild of Brazilian board shaper, Jairo Lumertz, who as a surfer and environmentalist, had become concerned about the increasing number of bottles and other rubbish he saw floating in the surf.

The movement initially took off in Hawaii and through active supporters like Renata and Niel, was introduced into schools and universities throughout Brazil – and now Australia.

While completing their studies at Bond, Renata and Niel hope to spread their environmental message even further by running workshops at schools, universities and community groups here on the Gold Coast.

For more information about the program, visit or the Projeto Prancha Ecologica Facebook page.


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