With sustainability as their benchmark, Betty Steele and Brenda Dizon have developed the annual Cardiff Surf Classic & Green Beach Fair in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA into one of the greenest events in San Diego County. By showcasing green businesses in all industries – including surf, architecture, building and art – these two ocean stewards have injected eco awareness across their community.
What is the foundation of the Cardiff Surf Classic & Green Beach Fair?
Brenda: Betty and I share a passion for learning about improving the environment and we know the beach communities are full of active families, so we wanted to share a lot of what we were learning about leading healthier, sustainable lifestyles.
How can this event fuel change in the products we buy and use?
Betty: The best part of a grassroots event is that local green businesses get exposure and we get the opportunity to work with locals and residents to learn more about the businesses in their own community.
Brenda: We hope to build commerce by more people learning about great eco-friendly products and services offered by our local businesses, non-profits and government agencies. I believe that is exactly what is happening. One of the goals of the event is for people to come away with learning more about improving the health of your daily life and sustainable products, whether it’s solar, agriculture, gardening, composting , recycling, transportation, energy efficiency, home design and improvements you can make, water conservation, or better products in the surf industry.
Was there a defining moment when you knew you had to do something to safeguard our environment and natural resources?
Betty: I started the San Diego Chapter of Surfrider because I realized the government and national organizations didn’t concentrate on local communities and their specific challenges and needs.
Brenda: Once I had my daughter in 1984, I became acutely aware of organic food, pesticides in our agriculture, and the rise of disease on a national level. It dawned on me how abusive we are as humans to this planet.
What types of easy “green” living choices have you made?
Betty: I’ve changed the flooring in my home to cork; I’ve had an energy efficiency company come out and test my home and I’ve added insulation. I now use biodegradable cleaning products and I altered the plumbing for gray water use when it becomes legal. I have LED lighting. Lastly, I compost.
Brenda: I definitely continue to try and be better at recycling. It’s made me so aware of how much packaging we have in the United States. I have a compost bin, and I switched out all of my home’s lighting to LED’s. I also try to be more water wise. We recently painted the interior of our home and used no VOC paints. I drive a Prius and can’t wait to buy an electric car. I use reusable bags to shop. We only have eco-friendly cleaning products for our home and garden. We love to shop at the Leucadia Farmers Market and Seaside Market, which supports local organic farmers.
Who are your environmental heroes?
Betty: My environmental heroes are Al Gore, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Michael Moore. My local hero is environmental activist Billy Stern for all of his good work.
Brenda: My environmental hero is Al Gore as well. I also appreciate so many other people who have made a dent in the American and international consciousness, such as Bill Clinton, Ed Begley, Van Jones, the Coustou family, Sierra Club, and Surfrider Foundation. The older I get the more I appreciate true activists and how hard they fight every day to make policy changes that benefit everyone.
How does the ocean/beach inspire you?
Betty: The ocean is therapeutic and gives me energy no matter how tired I am. When I jump in, it instantly energizes me.
Brenda: I love that there is so much life in the ocean – it’s almost a world within itself. I love to look at it; it’s mesmerizing. I wish I wasn’t so intimidated by its power; maybe I’d jump in more often.
Betty Steele moved from Houston, Texas to the funky beach town of Leucadia, Calif. in 1969 at the age of 18, quickly picked up surfing and the SoCal lifestyle, and eventually opened a health food restaurant. Betty, now a successful realtor and community leader, also co-founded the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, a national non-profit organization that provides education and resources to clean up our beaches and coastal waterways.
Brenda Dizon was born in North Hollywood, Calif., and made her move to San Diego in 1975. She remembers taking an hour bus ride to the beach with her friends, and soaking up many hot, sunny days at La Jolla Shores during her youth. Brenda, who was raised in a nature-loving family, spent nearly every summer camping in places like Pismo Beach, Yosemite, Sequoia National Park, Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas, and Kennedy Meadows in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She is also a self-made business woman who has spent the last 21 years in real estate finance.