Ocean-bound on a synthetic organic adventure, bank heir David de Rothschild and two grandchildren of the late Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl (of Kon-Tiki fame), have set sail across the wild seas on a self-constructed plastic bottle raft.
The mission, which is an environmental statement opposing the mass of waste found in our oceans, is currently heading for the Line Islands, 2090 kilometres south of Hawaii.
Mr Rothschild had the idea to put together 12,000 discarded plastic bottles to form his catamaran, the Plastiki, to send a message to people about what he calls “inefficient design” as opposed to ‘waste’.
Oceanographer, Charles Moore, who is a forerunning anti-oceanic waste advocate, says the Pacific is literally littered with trash, with one ‘island’ of plastic stretching for 1600 kilometres. It is a sad fact, that in many parts of the ocean, plastic waste accounts for 90 – 95% of the world’s oceanic debris.
Timothy Ragen, Executive Director of the US Marine Mammal Commission, says each year oceanic trash kills thousands of aquatic life, including seals and turtles, as well as coral reefs.
In formulating its crusade against these worldly ills, the Plastiki allegedly took a year to shape its 12,000 bottles to make it a sea worthy vessel. Now, well on its way, the Plastiki has two hulls, five sails, and travels at a speed (on average) of five knots an hour.
Even the hull is made out of PET (recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate), used primarily in making plastic bottles. The Plastiki also uses only wind, solar and pedal power to move, and captures rainwater for the crews’ showers.
This oceanic environmental waste ambassador is also alleged to be growing bok choy, kale and chard in a hydroponic garden on deck, while posting regular updates on its website, as well as conducting school classes via skype when possible. The crew are also logging the GPS coordinates of the trash it finds along the way.
While the Plastiki has generally been applauded for its environmental efforts, the Aquatic Gardeners Association (AGA) are purportedly alarmed at the on deck garden’s non comital approach to any one particular element.