On living the simple life (in balance with the natural world) on his acreage with one solar panel, a compost toilet, and a rain water tank...


The orb that is David 'Rasta' Rastovich. Pic: Swilly

David Rastovich is widely known for his interest in environmental advocacy, anti-whaling activism and green surfboard adoption. At home he lives a simple life in balance with the natural world on an acreage with one solar panel, a compost toilet, and a rain water tank. On the road performing duties as a freesurfer and brand ambassador, a small footprint lifestyle is much harder to maintain. Tracks got in touch with Rasta recently to see how he deals with challenges and contradictions that shadow a man of principles in a complex modern world.

Is sustainable living something that concerns you?

“As with all language we have to agree upon the words we use before conversing. To me, sustainable means keeping a balance of resources to sustain 'something'. In the case of humans and our future we talk a lot about 'sustainability'. But what are we trying to sustain? This modern excessive life we are all a part of? Sustain over the top developed nation lifestyles, or third world suffering that supports our industrial excesses? All of us use more than we actually need, myself completely included! I think a lot of us have different ideas of what we want to sustain. This should be addressed before any conversation takes place. So, in this case 'living sustainably' to me means being able to sustain surfing in a clean ocean, breathing clear air, food in my belly and a roof over my head, while not impeding another beings ability to choose a free life. All the while attempting to not shoot myself in the foot by doing things that will jeopardise those basic needs I have created in my life. Sustaining a world that will support our basic human needs is something I am very passionate about. Though I am a human and we are inherently paradoxical, like all life perhaps, so there are things I do that are completely at odds with each other. I am trying to balance out my levels of consumption and conservation, but this is a big experiment that we are all involved in here on Earth and so there are times where I feel something has been balanced equanimously and times where the scales are way off.”

What changes have you made in your lifestyle to live more sustainably?

I live on an acreage with one solar panel, a compost toilet and a rain water tank. So when I am home I feel pretty neutral. Where I live there is a lot of local produce so that feeds me well. I am trying to devise conservation campaigns that are also as efficient as possible, while focussing primarily on the oceanic issues of commercial fishing, marine debris, and whale/dolphin killing.”

Surfers love to travel but we're told flying is one of the worst thing we can do in terms of greenhouse pollution and climate change. You fly more than most people. Do you offset? Do you try and fly less? Would you support a Government that put a big carbon tax on air travel and made it much more expensive?

“I am a little sceptical of offset programs that see old growth tore down and replaced by monocultured ventures.  But I am not educated enough to speak clearly on that issue.  I still offset where available most times though... that’s questionable. I would support a government tax that made it more expensive for fuel, flying, transport of every kind.”

The Rasta tryptic.

Can individual actions make a real difference when it comes to global problems?

“Yes! An individual can change entire countries of people and the land they inhabit.  Look at Wangari Maathai who started the GreenBelt Movement that has planted over 30 million trees through Kenya and other African countries, she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for this work.  She has ignited a change that sees entire parts of the continent now growing it’s own food, changing their eco system and even bringing more rain to desolate areas due to all the trees they have planted!  One woman in a place that is radically sexest and poor started this movement and is now changing the world millions of Africans live in.”

Are you in a position to push for change in the way Billabong do business?

“I am in a fortunate position with Billabong, they support all of the conservation efforts of Surfers For Cetaceans; they do a lot behind the scenes and shy away from being tagged as an 'environmentalist' brand.  All of the USA's shirts are organic, the boardshorts range is largely made from recycled PET, and they have the Benign (B9) wetsuit which is also made out of recycled materials. We have a Surfers For Cetaceans range of organic and recycled material garments. These are things I am involved in with Billabong so they are the things I can speak of.”

Is there any personal conflict with your own world view and with being a sponsored athlete who image is used to promote consumerism?

“People may think that because someone has certain high ideals in one area of their life that they are going to be as balanced and peaceful in every other way.  Martin Luther King JR was a great man, but he cheated on his wife. John Lennon a great advocate for peace, he beat his wife. I am by NO MEANS in the same world as those two heroes, but the same kind of all encompassing expectation gets placed onto anyone who publicly makes a stance to expose an atrocity, or better something. We are paradoxical creatures. I never claim to be anything other than a surfer trying to figure out my own balance. I do not think others should live the way I do.  My conservation efforts are designed to illuminate an issue that is hiding in a dark corner of human expression.  Sure, with all my heart I hope that commercial fishing would end, whaling would end, poverty would end. And that a world filled with huge incense sticks, massive drum circles and peace, love and mungbean gatherings would arise. But I am not going to tell others to do that. I have no answers for anyone other than myself.”