May 28, 2009

I’m on a Boat!!! (made of re-purposed plastic bottles)

Considered the “Hottest Guy in Green” by Earthfirst.com, David de Rothschild is turning out to be much more than a poster boy for the sexy green movement. After founding the successful Adventure Ecology project, he is about to head to Australia from San Francisco on a boat made of recycled plastic. The journey of the Plastiki hopes to bring awareness to the potential of reused plastic as well as the North Pacific Garbage Patch that the crew will be passing through. 

Check out this video on the production Process.

And here’s a piece of GOOD Magazine’s recent interview with De Rothschild:

G: What challenges have you come up against?

DDR: I think it’s always dealing with the unknown. That’s why this is such an adventure. You know, it’s about understanding the material, which has to do with the message of understanding plastic.

G: And what do you want people to understand about plastic?

DDR: I hope people stop regarding it as a throw-away item, and we can help and put plastic into a light where it has more value. If it’s still perceived as a throw-away item, we’ll be stuck in the same position. To back up, we’re kind of in the hundredth year of using it, which is quite interesting to think about. It was 1899 that Leo Hendrik Baekland was paid 1 million dollars by Kodak for a new photographic paper he created, which allowed photographers to go inside and use artificial light instead of sunlight to develop their film. He used that million dollars to develop a plastic called Bakelite, which he revealed to the world in 1909. Fast forward to 2009, we’re producing 200 million tons of plastic a year, much of which is single-use, throw-away plastic.

G: It’s kind of an ungodly amount.

DDR: It is, and I think the knee-jerk reaction to plastic is that it’s the enemy. But we’re trying to both beat waste and showcase waste as a resource to give it a new value. And we’re using the plastic water bottle, which is the pinup for throw-away plastic. To use that, we need to understand the material, and that’s what this program has been about.

G: What have you learned about the materials?

DDR: It’s a lot more versatile than we originally thought, and also a lot stronger. By our calculations, it’s about half the weight of fiber glass and about three quarters the strength, which was surprising. We did tests yesterday to try bonding the materials together, and what we’re learning isn’t just about using repurposed or cradle-to-cradle plastic in the boating industry; it’s something that we can move into kayaks and snowboards and all sorts of other products.

Read the rest here.

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