Kon-Tiki for Our Times


In March of 2010, explorer David de Rothschild, and a hardy crew of adventurers set sail from San Francisco Bay on a small boat (the Plastiki) made of 12,500 discarded plastic bottles, glued together with adhesives derived from sugar and cashew nuts. Four months later they made landfall in Sydney, Australia. Along the way, they brought worldwide attention to the plight of the oceans, and the toxic threat of plastics in the fragile marine environment.

Here’s the statistic that David de Rothschild read one day which inspired the entire Plastiki project: Every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic garbage (United Nations Environment Programme).

Rothschild knew he had to join with others to do something: “…plastic was the main human fingerprint on the oceans, then why not use it as the basis for a craft, a boat that would highlight this mess….The adventure of Plastiki, from San Francisco to Sydney, would showcase a new way of thinking about waste, and it would generate the stories to inspire more ways of thinking, more dreams, more adventures.”

Rothschild shares these new stories, along with ways to live saner on earth, in his new book Plastiki — Across the Pacific on Plastic: An Adventure to Save our Oceans. It’s a wonderful book, full of photos, and very helpful fact boxes and illustrated charts. Each member of the Plastiki team gets their own profile/interview, including Olaf Heyerdahl, grandson of the Kon-Tiki‘s Thor Heyerdahl, an early inspiration for the Plastiki adventure.

Stay tuned for our next post which will highlight some of the most disturbing details on plastic-pollution reported in the Plastiki book. For now, the Land Library can highly recommend these three titles from our shelves!

moby-duckamerican plasticplastic
Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn, American Plastic: A Cultural History by Jeffrey L. Meikle, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel (a just published book recommended by David de Rothschild — “the first step to creating change in understanding, and the first step to understanding anything to do with plastics is reading Susan Freinkel’s compelling, much-needed, and truly brilliant book.“).

de rothschild
David de Rothschild on a sea of trash, OR, David de Rothschild on the stuff boats (& dreams) are made of??

smaller high seas

At the end of their journey, the Plastiki crew was even more committed to making a positive change in the world: “Change that can dramatically shift our daily habits away from the unnecessary and destructive addiction to single-use plastics, but even more important and urgent, a change in attitudes toward understanding, valuing, and protecting one of our planet’s most precious and important natural systems: the oceans.” — David de Rothschild


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