This April, defying all rationale, Rothschild will set sail from San Francisco, California in the hope of travelling 11,500 nautical miles across the world’s largest and arguably most unpredictable sea to its final destination – Sydney, Australia. The twist? The 60-ft catamaran dubbed the Plastiki is made entirely from plastic.
A combination of PET and over 20,000 CO2-injected post-consumer plastic bottles, the Plastiki will make its journey via a number of ecologically threatened regions including Bikini Atoll, the former atomic-bomb testing site, and Tuvalu, an island rapidly disappearing under rising seas.
Inspired by the 1947 Kontiki expedition, which saw Thor Heyerdal and his team sail a replica of an ancient Inca raft across the pacific to test theories on early Peruvian settlements, Rothschild aims ‘within the context of the environment and the world’s oceans … to capture the imagination of a global audience and empower them to act more responsibly towards our planet.’
Along the way, Rothschild and his team of scientists, sailors and creative thinkers will swing by the northern reaches of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a Canada-size, 100-million-ton accumulation of mostly plastic refuse trapped in a whirlpool of ocean currents in the middle of the Pacific. This toxic mess kills around a million sea birds and 10,000 mammals a year alone.
Acting as a pin-up for excessive overuse of plastic in consumer society, Rothschild sees Mission Plastiki as a perfect way to ‘beat waste’ by promoting a ‘rethink’ of new uses for recycled plastic, while dramatising the problem of ocean debris. Not only will this distinctive vessel lay the foundation for an iconic and historical expedition, its ‘lasting legacy’, as Rothschild describes, ‘will be its capacity to shift public thinking and perception from plastics as the enemy to how plastic can become part of the solution’, allowing Adventure Ecology, once again, to deliver a global ‘message in a bottle’.