Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Plastiki -- Message in a Bottle

When David de Rothschild announced that he planned to sail the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney on a boat made entirely out of plastic bottles, many were skeptical about the idea. But the lack of confidence is the least of de Rothschild's worries. The 30 year old environmentalist speaks with crusader-like conviction about "harnessing his dreams to inspire, educate and engage individuals, communities and industry to become agents of environmental change."

4 years ago, de Rothschild, heir of one of the world's greatest banking fortunes sets up Adventure Ecology where he raise public awareness about the various enviromental issues. The idea of Plastiki were conceived when de Rothschild wanted to REUSE materials instead of recycling. Recycling usese energy, often producing by-products that endanger the environment. Substitution like paper bags, wood and other biodegradeble materials are undeniably green, but why don't we reuse what we already have in abundance- plastic?

Plastiki is a boat completely made up of plastic bottles, blown hard with gases. The turning point of the boat's construction came when de Rothschild and his team of expert researchers discovered a revolutionary "smart" plastic - SrPet. The Plastiki concept designer, Michael Pawlyn opted for a pomegranate-like construction, with bottles packed into an inverted V beneath the boat's skeleton. The boat's egg-shaped cabin contain four berths with high tech equipment that enable live blog feed and a plug-and-play navigation system. It has fixed centreboards that enable manual navigation by sails and a small vegetable garden and vacuum evaporator for daily drinking water. Plastiki is literally a green vehicle which is completely independant and self-sustainable. "In that sense the Plastiki is also about solutions, not just drawing attention to the problems." said Pawlyn.

On this expedition, Rothschild had expressed that the success of Plastiki relies mainly on his team. He is also confident that this expedition will attract attention of the people to the issue of sea pollution where the Pacific Ocean is literally home to plastic waste where marine lives are critically endangered. He also brought attention to the concept of reusing when there is an opportunity rather than recyling. Last but not least, de Rothschild has become the idol and ispiration of many adventurers for his courage and ambition.

Information adapted from Reader's Digest May 2009 issue, pg 90-97
National Geographic official website

For more information and daily updates on the voyage of Plastiki, visit

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