Glance around at any cafeteria and you will see an astonishing number of people using plastic bottles. At best, they will be recycled and, at worst, they will be thrown away in the trash. But, what if you could turn these bottles into a boat and sail around the Pacific Ocean? Sound like a daydream? Not anymore!

The Plastiki is a catamaran sailboat built from 12,000 post-consumer plastic bottles. Its mission? To sail from San Francisco, USA to Sydney, Australia in 100 days.

This voyage is being led by eco-adventurer David de Rothschild. His crew’s goal, besides having fun in an incredibly cool boat, is to send a message to the world regarding the potential for using “waste” as a resource. Their main philosophy is to promote the fact that when we use our curiosity and work together, we can come up with new solutions about reducing our human fingerprints on the natural world. Talk about moving beyond the “message in a bottle!”

Did you know? Between 60 to 80 per cent of litter in oceans is from plastic materials. Each year more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die when they ingest or entangle themselves in plastic pollution.

So besides being made out of plastic bottles, what else makes Plastiki special? First of all, Plastiki was carefully designed to be as eco-friendly as possible. This includes solar panels, wind and trailing propeller turbines, bicycle generators, a urine-to-water recovery and rain water catchment system and a hydroponic rotating cylinder garden. In fact, even the bonding that holds everything together is an organic glue that was made from cashew nuts and sugar cane!

Did you know? To make one kilogram of paper, 300 litres of water is used. That’s equivalent to 75 milk jugs of water! So next time you take notes in class, remember to use both sides of the sheet and recycle.

Get this: you too can take part in this amazing voyage by taking up Plastiki’s philosophy. Earth Day (Thursday, April 22) is fast approaching and there are many things you can do to help raise awareness about the benefits of waste reduction. In fact, why not start making small changes now?

Did you know? The amount of recyclable waste sent to landfills can be as high as 70 per cent!

Consider this: when you take a disposable lunch to school, you are generating 30 kilograms of garbage per school year on average. Like the old adage says: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!

Author's Note, July 27, 2010: The journey was successful! The boat accomplished its goal and just reached Sydney, Australia. It will now be placed in the Sydney's Maritime Museum. See more coverage of the story

To learn more about Plastiki:

http://www.theplastiki.com/

To learn more about Earth Day and the environment:

http://www.earthday.ca/pub/

http://www.earthday.org/

Article first published on April 19, 2010.

Photo Credit: iStock

Iris Liu

I am a medical student at the UBC, Island Medical Program. Between coordinating for Gene skool, learning about medicine, and playing on my guitar, percussing my food and co-managing the In the News section of CurioCity, I occasionally wonder when I sleep! But all is well when I take the time to just reflect on the day by reading my Bible and writing plays about a fictional character named Cindy.


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