Jo was project manager and expedition skipper of United Nations recognised global solutions-driven awareness campaign on ocean plastic that reached millions of people.
The Plastiki crew designed and built the world’s first closed-loop design ocean going sailing boat – ie: using only sustainably sourced, reusable or recyclable materials. We wanted to give our boat design the biggest test imaginable. So we sailed her for 3 months over 8,000miles across the world’s largest ocean – the Pacific. The method behind the madness being if we can design a fully reusable boat then everyday products could follow suit.
12,000 used plastic bottles provided the boats buoyancy and attracted the curiosity of the world’s media – we became known as ‘the plastic bottle boat’. The super structure was made from a low toxicity, recyclable material that was developed and tested through the project.
The United Nations recognized that Plastiki had formed a creative engagement platform that invited curious people to come together to explore. The hurdles we jumped over resulted in new inventions, like the high performance sailcloth made from old drinks bottles and the Honey and Cashew nut glue, that are now on the market.
We have misunderstood our relationship with plastic. We need to adopt a new one – one where we appreciate it’s value. A product’s entire lifecycle on the planet should be mapped out before it’s first application is even born. We need to take our lead from nature’s design principles – where there is a constant cycle of death and rebirth. Nothing is wasted.
If we can design a boat with this philosophy in mind – surely we can design every day products like a toothbrush with this philosophy in mind.
Plastiki’s partners included Hewlett Packard, Inmarsat, Nike, Khiels, IWC and Harken who all made commitments to understand their use of plastic and reduce their impact on the sea.
TIME magazine voted the Plastiki as one of 2010’s top inventions. You can read more about the design through this article in Wired Magazine. National Geographic produced a two-part documentary on the build process and the expedition.
Jo project managed the build and skippered the Plastiki for David De Rothschild, prior to launching Common Seas. Her Tedx talk discusses the expedition in more detail.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” Buckminster Fuller