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ActivismRecyclingTransport & Travel

Boat Made of 16,000 Plastic Bottles to Sail from Cali to Australia

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British environmentalist David de Rothschild, author of Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook, met with the San Francisco Conservation Corps on Wednesday to talk about “Plastiki,” a 60-foot catamaran made from recycled plastic (except for the masts), which he’ll use to sail from San Francisco to Australia: an 11,000 mile voyage!

The boat is made up of about 16,000 plastic bottles and is an “effort to raise awareness of the recycling of plastic bottles, which he says are a symbol of global waste.” says Rothschild. Skin-like panels made from recycled PET, a woven plastic fabric, will cover the hulls and a watertight cabin, which sleeps four. Only about 10 percent of the Plastiki will be made from new materials.

Two wind turbines and an array of solar panels will charge a bank of 12-volt batteries, which will power several onboard laptop computers, a GPS and SAT phone.

He went on to say, “It’s all sail power. The idea is to put no kind of pollution back into the atmosphere, or into our oceans for that matter, so everything on the boat will be composted. Everything will be recycled. Even the vessel is going to end up being recycled when we finish.”

While as noble as that sounds, I can’t help but think that if this boat makes it…it will be on display for quite sometime. Maybe never recycled?

The plastic sailboat is taking shape in an old pier building not far from this city’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf. Here, thousands of two-liter soda bottles are being stripped of their labels, washed, filled with dry-ice powder and then resealed. The dry ice sublimates into carbon dioxide gas and pressurizes the bottle, making it rigid.

De Rothschild is something of an adventure nut himself. He is one of only several dozen people to traverse both the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps. In 2005 he founded Adventure Ecology, an organization that uses field expeditions to call attention to environmental issues.

According to Adventure Ecology, Fifteen billion pounds of plastic are produced annually in the U.S., but only 1 billion pounds are recycled. A lot of the bottles that aren’t repurposed end up end floating out to sea. The Great Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch, where ocean currents shepherd much of this debris, is twice the size of Texas.

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De Rothschild’s vessel is scheduled to set sail from San Francisco in April. The crew is made up of three sailors and one scientist. The Plastiki is expected to stop in Hawaii, Tuvalu and Fiji on its way to Sydney, a trip estimated to take more than 100 days.

I hope they are more successful than those paper boat people. I mean, c’mon…paper?




10 comments
  1. Michael R.

    an A for creative use of garbage…a C+/B- for eco-consciousness…and a sound huzzah! for his bravery and/or foolishness…happy sails to you…

  2. chase

    After thought:
    So this means as well, if the vessel doesn’t make it – sinks some how along the way of his journey – it will mean 16,000 plastic bottles worth of plastic will end up in the ocean.

    something to make you go – hmmmmm?

  3. Eagletistical

    Wow, awareness. Really? If he’s so environmentally conscince, than why is there going to be an ENGINE in the “boat”. Isn’t AIR POWER the way to go? It has a sail doesn’t it? Can’t really do much without those “horrible” fossil fuels huh? Good luck.

  4. Variable

    I wonder how much energy it took to make all that dry ice to fill the empty bottles with CO2. I wonder how much water he will use to wash all those bottles. I wonder if his batteries are carbon neutral. More crap about MMGW

    I ran into this article a few minutes ago and thought how can it be that the Earth was warmer by 5.4F 100K years ago…
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5955880.ece

    But that can not be AlGore said it is our fault…..

  5. kristoffer

    This boat will save so much environment! oh wait. ego-trip from a rich kid saves nature how?

    “Even the vessel is going to end up being recycled when we finish.” wow, he is even considering cleaning up after him self!

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