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By Natalie Silverstein

Maybe it’s because I’ve never lived further than a few miles from the coast, or because I often spent Saturdays on my dad’s sailboat, but I’ve always been interested in marine life and partial to a nautical-inspired ensemble.  Of course I know that actual sailors no longer wear the romanticized Brenton stripes, peacoats or rope-accented tops…  They are way more hard-core than that.

A few weeks ago, a colleague invited me along to a lecture given by Jo Royale, the barely 30-year-old female skipper of the world’s first boat made entirely of plastic. The Plastiki is the brainchild of ecologist and adventurer David de Rothschild (yes, those de Rothschilds of British aristocracy) with the aim of drawing international attention to the Great Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area in the South Pacific where mind boggling amounts of our useless plastic trash is ending up.  An estimate 7 million tons of plastic waste covering an area double the size of Texas is floating there, wreaking havoc on the marine ecosystem and serving as a very ugly reminder that our trash doesn’t just disappear when we throw it into the garbage can.

I was really impressed with Jo – she seems like the kind of person who you could enjoy a beer with, as well as trust with your life at sea.  She discussed her sea-faring experiences and her inspiration to educate people about the health of our oceans. She’s Brit with a Masters degree in environmental studies who grew up sailing and has competed in around-the-world solo races. She joined de Rothschild’s team this year and is helping to oversee the design and construction of the plastic boat while also planning their voyage from San Francisco to Sydney, which will both document the Garbage Patch and make stops along the way on islands that are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change.

No word yet on when the boat will be ready for her maiden voyage.  Because no one has ever used plastic bottles, recycled plastic bag fiber, and other reused materials to build a big boat, the process is slow.  But, the team is confident that they’ll have a great prototype that will make the voyage and also serve as a model for using recycled materials in ship building.  Super cool.


Written by mobshopblog

November 21, 2009 at 12:11 am

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