A Captive Audience


The Plastiki
August 29, 2010, 8:42 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: ,

The Plastiki is a boat made from 12,500 plastic bottles that was sailed from San Francisco to Sydney this year.  The purpose of the project is to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of plastic when used and disposed of inappropriately. This is done by using an adventure style mission to captivate and educate.

The Plastiki is communicating a variety of messages.  The first thing that is happening is that an issue has been identified, and addressed by means of a public awareness campaign. There is a general environmental message surrounding the sheer volume of plastic waste that currently exists in the the oceans and the manner in which this is entering the foodchain as it breaks down into small particles.  There is the idea that this plastic that is used for so little time by humans before being disposed of remains in the world for so long.   Then the second thing that is happening is that design solutions are being proposed by the design artifact.  Various ideas around how plastic might be designed more effectively along the along principles of cradle to cradle design are explored in the plastic bottle boat.  The boat is not a solution for the entire plastic problem, it offers only the ideas which its design and form allows.  So the solutions are limited by what can actually be designed given it must take the form of a boat, and given the available technology, materials and skills available at that particular time.

The third aspect of note is that these ideas are really well managed to present a coherent, engaging and consistent message.  Below is a selection of articles found in the Sydney Morning Herald around the time of the Plastiki’s arrival in Sydney in July 2010.  All tell a clear picture of what the project sets out to achieve while still allowing for its complexity.

The plastic bottle lined hull of Plastiki.The plastic bottle lined hull of the Plastiki.

Potent message in bottles. By Sarah Whyte,  July 11 2010 “IT’S a message carried in 12,500 bottles across the seas, and it says one thing: eliminate waste.”

Plastic is fantastic for banking dynasty heir. Glenda Kwek,  July 26 2010 “De Rothschild’s message is simple: plastic is fantastic, and we should learn how to reuse and recycle it, instead of discarding it as waste that then goes on to pollute our land and oceans.

“The story that has been told to us about plastic is that it’s cheap, it’s valueless, it’s non-toxic, it’s easy to use and don’t worry about throwing it out because we can just make some more.

“The reality is it’s not cheap, it’s not non-toxic, it’s not valueless, it’s valuable, it uses a lot of resources.”

Addiction to plastic is fueling marine disaster. Tim Elliot July 25 2010

“In Australia alone we have used almost 14 million tonnes of plastic since 2000, according to the latest industry figures.

But tonnes and tones of discarded plastic wind up polluting the ocean and waterways and endangering wildlife.”

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