Don’t be fooled by its cute name! The Plastiki catamaran has a serious message. Everything on this boat is made out of reclaimed plastic. For instance, the hull is made of PET (recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate), which is widely used in plastic bottles, and an experimental fabric called self-reinforcing PET (srPET), woven from recycled fibers.
Unlike fiberglass boats, which cannot be recycled, Plastiki’s hull, deck and cabin are completely recyclable. The boat uses wind, solar and pedal power to move, and the roof of the cabin captures rainwater for showers. Over 12,000 plastic bottles were collected and filled with powdered dried ice for this project. Once the ice turns from a solid structure to gas it becomes carbon dioxide, which keeps the catamaran afloat.
Why build a boat made of recycled plastic?
First of all, I don’t think I have to tell you that recycled is always better than new materials. Secondly, the unconventional catamaran is drawing attention to the millions and millions of plastic bottles and plastic bags that flood our oceans. Starting at the San Francisco Bay, it will cross the 11,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean to eventually reach Sydney harbor in Australia. Three months of an exciting journey!
The boat is sail-ready. Its maiden voyage is scheduled for Saturday, March 20 at 9:30 a.m., PST departing from the Clipper Maritime Center in Sausalito, CA. The Plastiki is the brainchild of David de Rothschild, expedition leader and British enfant terrible of the eco movement, and Adventure Ecology, an organization that raises awareness of environmental and social issues. They fight for the preservation of the oceans and against the use of plastic. Consider this: Plastic that ends up in the ocean stays there for the next 300 years, due to the materials’ inability to decompose.
The venture got tremendous media attention already from TV stations (e.g., CNN and acclaimed newspapers (e.g., The New York Times). Once it sets sail, we will be able to follow each step of the journey in real time by logging on to www.plastiki.com. Want to know their exact location or sailing speed? Up-to-the-minute information is available at your finger tips! Keep checking the website for updates or sign up for their newsfeed!
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the journey will be a success for two reasons: The ship’s crew accomplishing the goal of reaching Sydney in good health and safety; and the change in our behavior, one unnecessary shopping bag at a time.
If a boat made from plastic bottles doesn’t excite you, this might. Here some (not so) fun facts about plastic, assembled by Adventure Ecology:
- It is estimated that almost all of the marine pollution in the world is comprised of plastic materials. The average proportion varied between 60% and 80% of total marine pollution.
- In many regions in the northern and southern gyres (rotating ocean currents), plastic materials constitute as much as 90 to 95% of the total amount of marine debris.
- Scientists estimate that every year at least 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they entangle themselves in plastic pollution or ingest it.
- According to Project Aware, 15 billion pounds of plastic are produces in the U.S. every year, and only 1 billion pounds are recycled. It is estimated that in excess of 38 billion plastic bottles and 25 million Styrofoam cups end up in landfill and although plastic bottles are 100% recyclable, on average only 20% are actually recycled.
Rethink! Keep our oceans clean! Hail to the jute bag!
Images courtesy of Plastiki.com.