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de Rothschild will sail to the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' in catamaran made of soda bottles

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image The garbage patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre. Illustration by Fangz/Wikipedia

David de Rothschild’s his name, trash talkin’s his game.

Love of planet Earth and returning its oceans to as near pristine as possible is what drove de Rothschild to build his catamaran, the Plastiki, made of soda bottles, and to make plans to set sail this month.

His destination: The enormous floating island of garbage known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Eastern Garbage Patch, is located in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.

Based in Sausalito, Calif., de Rothschild’s goal is to educate as many people as possible on the dangers of polluting the ocean with all manner of trash, by navigating and blogging his way to the ever-growing sea of garbage that covers an area bigger than the surface land mass of Texas, which is 268,581 square miles.

"There were 25 billion Styrofoam cups used last year. How do you even get your head around what 25 billion Styrofoam cups looks like?" he told the LA Times. "Eighty-odd percent of what's purchased by Americans is thrown out within six months."

The floating mass of trash carried on ocean currents was first identified in the 1950, and has steadily grown.

De Rothschild, 31, heir to the British Rothschild banking fortune, has been referred to as an “eco-adventurer,” a “billionaire eco-warrior,” an "eco-playboy" and “eco-toff,” which is British slang for a rich boy.

De Rothschild prefers to call himself an educator and “environmental storyteller” and abhors the idea that he’s an eco celebrity.

“(The) idea of the celebrity eco thing makes me want to puke. . . . It belittles the severity of the issues that we've got to tackle. Unfortunately, we're in a society that loves labels and loves celebrities," is a frequent mantra of his.

The March garbage patch tour will end in Australia, and will have a dedicated educational punch to it as all his eco-adventures have had in the past. While en route de Rothschild will be blogging about the “evils of plastic and a consumer society.”

No stranger to education or eco-warrior trips, de Rothschild signed on for an expedition to trek across Antarctica, where he and the party he was traveling with endured temperatures of minus 30 degrees.

Before embarking on that expedition, de Rothschild placed an ad in a New Zealand teaching publication, not only imploring students to learn about their frosty southern neighbor, but also showed teachers how to guide students on their own virtual expeditions.

De Rothschild said when he returned home his message was so successful that he was "bombarded by messages from teachers."

Six months later, he established Adventure Ecology, an organization that combines eco-treks and technology to teach schoolchildren about the environment.

After that he was off to the North Pole. That expedition had to be aborted mid-trip, because it was too warm, and the snow was melting too quickly to ski and travel by dogsled.

"There I was in my tent wearing merino long johns, cooking my dinner and sweating away," he said of an April night near the North Pole. "It doesn't take a scientist to realize that something's amiss."

Another purpose of the trash trip is to extol the virtues of Plastiki's innovations, such as the glue that he used to hold it together is made from sugar and cashew hulls, which he said could be marketed today, and that would “take epoxies -- horrible, noxious stuff -- off the shelf straightaway."

World famous explorer Thor Heyerdahl who sailed his boat, Kon-Tiki, which was made from wood, reeds and bamboo across the Pacific Ocean in 1947, was the inspiration for de Rothschild naming his catamaran the Plastiki.

"The boat (Plastiki) had to carry six people across the Pacific," said naval architect Andrew Dovell, who built Plastiki. "The vessel had to derive its primary flotation from two-liter drink bottles. They had to be visible."

Dovell thought Plastiki would be the strongest and most buoyant if built in the framework of a catamaran with its framework made of plantation-grown plywood. De Rothschild thought it would be better to build it entirely of plastic, either recyclable or recycled, so the craft could live up to his name.

It was a matter of trial and error, but eventually their goal for the craft’s construction of strong, recyclable self-reinforced polyethylene terephthalate that forms the superstructure was completed.

One problem remains, except for test runs, the materials are untested for durable seagoing.

When asked what he’d do if the catamaran hit a storm that's severe enough to pop the soda bottles out of the twin hulls, de Rothschild said, "Well, I put earplugs in. I put my eye blinds on. I listen to Led Zeppelin."

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (3 posted):

hp laptop coupon code on 03/11/2010 01:47:42
Ah, the same Rothschild who said Mars is experiencing warming on its planet because it's closer to the sun than we are.
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m3 real  on 03/15/2010 23:22:30
The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. But before we discuss those, it's important to look at the role of plastic.
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Smart Lipo on 04/28/2010 01:18:47
Once the process is completed it should be ensured that whole boat is recycled and taken care of. As some floats on the water surface while some smaller pieces gets carried away because of the water currents.
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