Last Friday, adventurer, conservationist, and National Geographic Emerging Explorer David de Rothschild unveiled the finished craft Plastiki, a catamaran buoyed by more than 12,000 recycled plastic bottles in which he and a crew plan to sail from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia.
David and the project team have spent the last few years conceiving and testing different boat designs, fabricating materials from discarded waste, and finding novel solutions to the challenge of crossing a large, sometimes violent ocean in a vessel made almost exclusively from reclaimed and natural stuff. (For more on the impending voyage and the construction of the boat, read my interview with David here.) Although the trip will be extraordinary, he says that many of the lessens learned by Team Plastiki apply just as well to our (mostly) less daunting daily journeys through the world.
David shares these seven examples, in his own words.
Always try to break new ground: Go for something different. Just because a thing has always been done a certain way doesn’t necessarily make that the best way. And the best path isn’t always the shortest distance to the goal.
Ask questions: Apply a level of curiousity to everything you do. In particular, be curious about where the products you use come from, your everyday items. Some of what you learn may surprise you, and inspire you to make other choices.
Nobody is as smart as everybody: Try to create a community of people around your ideas who will contribute their own thoughts and support you when the going gets tough. It isn’t always easy to be green, for instance, so having peers to encourage and guide you will help you do better!
Don’t drink bottled water: When did we get so thirsty? Check if you’re traveling, but in most of the United States and Europe, the tap water’s absolutely fine to drink, as good as or better than anything out of a plastic bottle. And without creating the needless waste.
- If you do use plastic, reuse; if you don’t reuse, recycle.
Think about the bag: There are billions of plastic bags used every year in the U.S. Many of them wind up in the ocean or landfills. Bring your own bags and reuse them.
Styrofoam went out of fashion with Tom Cruise, and that was awhile ago: Don’t accept a product served in [extruded polystyrene foam]. Let’s focus on banning those throwaway Styrofoam cups and other containers. Tens of billions get thrown away every year.
Plastiki photos by Luca Babini courtesy Adventure Ecology