The 60-foot Plastiki, a catamaran built almost entirely of recyclable materials, including 12,500 two-liter soda bottles, has begun a voyage from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia.
Voyage organizer David de Rothschild, a long-time environmentalist and heir to the Rothschild banking fortune, built the boat to raise awareness of the damage being caused by plastic garbage in the world’s oceans. In particular, Rothschild wants to increase awareness of the massive amounts of plastic accumulating in the Pacific Gyre, an area the size of Texas in the North Pacific characterized by high concentrations of plastic particles and chemical sludge.
According to Rothschild, the voyage is also intended to get people to think about how they use plastic in a different way, with an eye toward reducing the amount of material going into the waste stream. “We’re not being anti-plastic, what we have to do is eliminate dumb uses of plastic. Thirty-eight billion plastic bottles went into landfill last year,” he said.
The mission is modeled after the voyage of the raft Kon-tiki, lead by Thor Heyerdahl in the late 1940s from Peru to Tuamotu to prove the ancient Polynesians may, in fact, have originally come from South America.
For more on the boat, its six-member crew and the voyage, including real-time position updates, click here.