David Mayer de Rothschild arrived in Sydney yesterday after a journey of 130 days and 8000 nautical miles in a boat made almost entirely of rubbish. This bizarre situation proves two things unequivocally. Firstly, that life will always be stranger than fiction, and Secondly, that people can often be delightfully more interesting than we expect them to be.
The billionaire heir of the famous family apparently turned adventure environmentalist after he joined a polar expedition in his early 20s. Since then, he has become the youngest person ever to reach the two poles, one of only 14 people ever to traverse the continent of Antarctica, was part of a team that broke the world record for the fastest ever crossing of the Greenland ice cap, and has led a field trip expedition to Ecuador documenting the damage international oil companies had caused to Ecuadorian rainforest.
The sailing expedition is an attempt to raise awareness of the effect and longevity of disposable plastic ‘rubbish’. The expedition commenced in March 2010, with Rothschild and four others sailing the boat (named the ‘Plastiki’) made of 12000 PET bottles (held together with organic glue of sugar cane and cashews) through the great pacific garbage patch and beyond. The boat gets its power from solar panels and windmills, and had been designed to be recycled. Instead, the crew intends to keep it as an example of the untapped potential of our rubbish.
“There were many times when people looked at us and said, ‘you’re crazy,'” de Rothschild said after docking. “I think it drove us on to say, ‘Anything’s possible.'”