This story is part of a series on ocean plastics.
Most people go to the beach to kick back. Not Alcindo Soares.
Soares always dreamed of becoming a professional athlete, Great Big Story reported in its profile of the exercise buff. But when he couldn’t afford to join a gym in Cape Verde, an island country off the coast of West Africa, he decided to build his own.
Soares, who works in construction, collects the detritus he finds on the shores of Santa Maria beach and fashions it into workout equipment. The outdoor facility is replete with many of the trappings you’d find at a standard fitness club, including weights, pull-up bars and a bench for dips. But there’s no membership fee here.
There’s a dual purpose behind Soares’ mission. He’s is cleaning up his beach at a time when environmentalists are particularly concerned about the amount of pollution in our oceans. There are more than 150 million tons of plastic in marine waters today. At this rate, there will be more plastics than fish (by weight) in the oceans by 2050.
Soares is also providing a free community center to an area that’s been ravaged by poverty. In Cape Verde, 21 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line, meaning they subsist on less than $1.25 a day.
“For as long as I live, I’ll continue to use it,” Soares told Great Big Story of his gym. “Train, then go swim in the ocean, and the day is complete.”