Thursday, July 29, 2010

THE PLASTIKI EXPEDITION - highlighting the perils of plastic

Everybody knows that plastic sucks, but how do you live without the stuff? Practically everything we consume is packaged in plastic. It's everywhere: in our cars, the music we listen to, the furniture we sit on, the clothes we wear.

It's also in our oceans, hundreds of tons of it. And it's killing dolphins, whales, turtles and God knows how many other creatures that live in the sea. Consider for example the phenomena of garbage islands, such as the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating island of trash twice the size of Texas located between California and Hawaii. And that's just one of them.

De Rothschild

David de Rothschild, an environmental campaigner and adventurer, decided to do something different to get the message out about plastic and its impact on the oceans. He and his mates crossed the Pacific - on a sailboat built entirely out of plastic. 12,000 plastic bottles to be precise.

The Plastiki crew

De Rothschild is not your average tree hugger. He's part of a seriously wealthy banking family so when he decides to launch into a new venture, he's got the moolah to pull it off. What's unusual about the dude is that he doesn't spend his days flitting around the globe pursued by hordes of paparazzi, partying it up and starring in his own reality TV show. Instead he gets involved in the big issues of the day, planning and executing expeditions and adventures around the world that highlight environmental issues. Yeah, I hate the bastard too.

Naturally the Plastiki is a monument to green living, including solar panels and a bicycle-powered generator to create power, a hydroponic garden, and salt water showers.

De Rothschild was joined on the Plastiki by 5 other crew members, including a female skipper and a dude from National Geographic who is shooting a documentary of the expedition. Six people on board a tiny boat made of plastic sounds like a recipe for disaster but so far the Plastiki seems to have managed quite well, despite the constant threat of being bulldozed by one of dozens of vast container ships that plough the ocean lanes which the Plastiki is also using. Yes, even on the ocean there is traffic.

The trip was officially completed on July 26 when the Plastiki sailed into Sydney Harbour , having traversed 8,300 miles across the Pacific. On their website the crew estimated that during the 40 days it took them to complete the journey, approximately 8,3 billion plastic bottles had been used in the USA alone.

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