In the current age of green-marketing hype, it’s really cool to see a company that puts its money and resources where its mouth is. Action-sports brand etnies created a campaign called “Buy A Shoe, Plant A Tree” that aims to plant more than 35,000 trees in the Costa Rican rainforest, one tree for every pair of the Jameson 2 Eco shoes sold. Last week, the ceremony for the project kicked off in a deforested patch of land east of Lake Arenal in the mountainous center of Costa Rica.
Together with La Reserva Forest Foundation, etnies has been working on the project for years, which is also benefiting the Maleku people, the smallest indigenous tribe in Costa Rica. CEO and owner Pierre-André Senizergues was joined by athletes like Ryan Sheckler, Benji Weatherley, Kyle Leeper, CJ Kanuha, and Chris Del Moro in planting the first trees in what they plan to be a bio-diverse, thriving forest on land that was previously cleared for cattle or farming.
“The name etnies comes from the word tribe,” said Pierre. “For etnies to have the opportunity to unite with the passionate people of the Maleku tribe and La Reserva on this very important reforestation project is one of my proudest moments in etnies’ 25-year history.”
It’s a great cause, and cool to see something actually happening—trees actually going into the ground, as opposed to some abstract campaign to “go green” where you have little idea where a contribution might end up. I also like that they’ve made it easy for you; all you have to do to help out is buy a pair of Jameson 2 Ecos, which are cool shoes in themselves, and made from recycled materials, and for every pair sold etnies will be planting a tree in the Costa Rica rainforest.
Hats off to Pierre and the crew at etnies for all their hard work in making it happen. “This project means a lot to me,” he said. “You make a life by what you give. This is the beginning, we will be doing much more.”
And don’t worry, in addition to being a trip with a great cause, we also all had plenty of fun as well. Here are a few quick highlights:
Pro skater and celebrity Ryan Sheckler was mobbed at least three times on the trip by fans. I’m not talking about two kids coming up, waving hi, and moving on, either. The first time was at a small restaurant out in the middle of nowhere, where a bus of tourist kids eating lunch spotted him at our table. Within 30 seconds it turned into a swarming, screaming mess, with more than 40 kids crowding him for an autograph and pictures.
I have to say, the kid is incredibly gracious. “I just try to ask how they’re doing and look them all in the eye,” he told us. Every fan that wanted an autograph or picture got one, even as Sheckler’s lunch went cold on the table.
A few days later we were on the beach at Jaco for a little surf contest. After the contest announcer let out that Sheckler was down there, the beach went absolutely nuts, with a hundred or more kids flocking over for a piece. He signed a few autographs, but really wanted to go catch a few waves. Fans followed him waist deep into the surf, and waited at the water for him.
When he got out, it was back on. He was taking pictures and signing bodies and t-shirts for an hour or more, but eventually security had to escort him out. It was crazy. There are no surfers in the world that draw that intensity of attention, not even Slater.
Before the tree planting ceremony, we all went to a huge lunch with the Maleku tribe, all 600 or so of them. After lunch they let us doing some practice shots with their bows and arrows. A nice Maleku man handed me one of their traditional bows, so I decided to give it a go. I pulled back hard, not wanting to look like a limp-wristed pansy, and then there was a loud “SNAP!”—I broke the guy’s bow perfectly in half. I apologized profusely, and he said it wasn’t a big deal, but knowing my luck it was probably a family heirloom or something.
Our crew was not deterred the least though, and a bit later, Benji Weatherley grabbed a bow, launched his first arrow, which proceeded to travel maybe five feet. For his next shot he pulled back hard and aimed 45-degrees up and the arrow went whizzing high into the air, sailing about 40 yards past the target and into the jungle behind. It turned out the “jungle” was someone’s yard, and Benji ran back to look for the arrow and make sure he didn’t stick someone’s pig.
Meanwhile, we continued shooting, of course. CEO of Sole Tech, Pierre stepped up and pulled hard, and proceeded to launch one high, straight on course toward where Benji was in the jungle. We forgot he was back there, but then someone scanned around and realized he was still looking for his arrow. “Benji!” we all screamed. “Look out!!!” He actually heard us yelling and ducked behind a tree, and lived to shoot a few more arrows—Casey Koteen