Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bibliophilia: Plastiki – David de Rothschild

Plastiki: Across the Pacific on Plastic - An Adventure to Save Our Oceans – David de Rothschild

I’ve mentioned taking part in cleanups in the Cootes watershed area. A lot of what we have to deal with is plastic detritus. Just in this relatively small area there is a lot of it. And it will eventually flow out into the ocean.

What I and many other conservation minded volunteers do though, while valuable, isn’t as imagination inspiring as this event was. While admittedly no plastic was removed from the Pacific, as a way to generate awareness of the issue, and a practical exploration of what can be done with recycled plastic, it had a value.

For me the most interesting part of the book wasn’t so much the activism or the voyage itself, but what went into making the boat. This wasn’t a half hearted effort, and a lot of time and money went into it. (A personal net worth $10 Billion {yes, he’s one of those Rothschilds} helps pay for the extensive R&D involved.) Nut-Gu, a polymer made from cashew nut oil and molasses sludge, and Seretex, a plastic from recycled plastic, were two of the items created to help build the boat.

Filled with lots of photos, sidebars, and infographics, it’s a surprisingly fun book about an unbelievably depressing subject. And hopefully one that inspires people to consume less plastic or come out in their area to clean this shit up.
  • Every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
  • One estimate states that in the Eastern Garbage Patch, a gyre in the NorthPacific that’s approximately twice the size of Texas, every pound of plankton is outmatched by 6 pounds of plastic litter.
  • Almost 75 % of the world’s fish stocks are already fished up to or beyond their sustainable limit.
  • For every 1 ton of plastic that is recycled, we save almost 2,000 pounds of oil.
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used to make the 29 billion plastic bottles Americans consume each year.
  • More than 28 million plastic bottles are used every minute.
  • Five out of every six plastic bottles are not recycled.
  • A plastic bottle can take 450 years to degrade.
If I have a gripe, and it’s a minor one, there is a total lack of photos showing the inside of the cabin. Sure there are a very few shots taken inside, but they’re closeups and show nothing of the living arrangements, layout, etc.

Some infographics from the time of the voyage describing the boat.
(Clicking on the images should bring up much larger versions – right clicking and opening in a new tab will bring up an image that ins some cases can be clicked on for a much larger version.) Take note in the first picture, inside the circle on the centre right - that is the cabin, which was cut and scored from one very large and very rare sheet of Seretex. It had to be perfect the first time they did it. Talk about pressure.

And some infographics about the issue.

Good for anyone interested in sailing / boat design /environmental causes.

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