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The Plastiki Expedition

April 8, 2010

The Plastiki began her adventure nearly four years ago after taking inspiration from a report issued by UNEP called ‘Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas’ and Thor Heyerdahl’s epic 1947 expedition, The Kon-Tiki. True to Adventure Ecology’s values, a compelling and pioneering expedition was needed that would not only inform, but would also captivate, activate and educate the world that waste is fundamentally inefficient design.

The Plastiki Expedition is a bold adventure that aims to capture the world’s imagination and draw our attention to the state of our oceans. The proposal is to build a boat from plastic bottles and recycled materials, which will then be sailed across the Pacific Ocean from North America to Australia.

Their philosophy is about recognizing that waste is fundamentally a design flaw (it does not appear in nature) It’s about re-thinking waste as a resource. It’s about cyclical ‘cradle-to-cradle’ philosophies rather than linear thinking when it comes to how we design our world. It’s about a better understanding of the lifecycle’s and materials used in our everyday lives. It’s about being curious and open, being prepared to let go of assumptions in order to undertake a new ‘Planet 2.0’ way of thinking and acting. It’s about acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers and that nobody is as smart as everybody.

They continue on their philosophy:

It’s about being collaborative and curious so to engage multiple perspectives, skills, opinions and organizations. It’s about constantly learning, unlearning and re-learning. It’s about re-integrating back into the web of life by recognizing and reducing our human fingerprints on the natural world. It’s about moving on from just articulating the problems and inspiring action of the solutions. It’s about encouraging the world to reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink more of the planets natural resources. It’s about delivering a spectacular global “Message in a Bottle”.

We can understand the project better by taking a look at their inspirations, in which they mention the book Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart, where they argue that the conflict between industry and the environment is not an indictment of commerce but an outgrowth of purely opportunistic design. The design of products and manufacturing systems growing out of the Industrial Revolution reflected the spirit of the day-and yielded a host of unintended yet tragic consequences.

The early design sketches show us the initial construction ideas for the boat:

The four month voyage is carrying The Plastiki through a number of environmentally sensitive regions. The most notable of which has been ominously named the ‘Eastern Garbage Patch‘, a region six times the size of the United Kingdom where vast quantities of plastic pollution have accumulated because of the currents. It is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N. Although many scientists suggest that the patch extends over a very wide area, with estimates ranging from an area the size of the state of Texas to one larger than the continental United States, the exact size is unknown.

The boat has been designed as a response to the problem that plastics present. The design also aims to be completely self-contained in terms of its energy generation, fresh water creation and waste treatment.

You can read more about The Plastiki Expedition at their web-site. Also you can collaborate here and track the voyage here. Last but not least, you can follow them on twitter at @Plastiki

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