The Plastiki Boat: A New Kind of Bottle Plastic Recycling

The Plastiki.  It’s not just any boat.  It’s a boat housing a crew on a mission to raise awareness in order to solve the problem of plastic waste and its harm on our environment.  This may seem like nothing special, but there’s more to the equation.

The boat is made out of recycled plastic – more specifically, recycled PET (a material used in most plastic bottles) and an experimental fabric called self-reinforcing PET (srPET), woven from PET fibers.  The Plastiki’s 60-foot-long hull is made from 12,500 plastic 2-liter bottles which are squeezed and filled with 12 grams of powdered dry ice, then capped and heat sealed with recycled plastic.  The dry ice turns into a gas and pressurizes the bottles with carbon dioxide.  As the boat moves, water runs between the bottles. The boat’s 60-foot-high mast is an irrigation pipe, with a camera attached.

This two-ton boat travels an average speed of five knots (which is the same as an average jogger) and can travel up to 200 miles a day.  Powered by wind turbines, solar panels and two stationary bicycle generators used by the crew for exercise, the Plastiki is currently on a 10,000-mile Pacific voyage from San Francisco, CA to Australia.  The crew is using this time to explore environmental hotspots filled with marine debris, plastic pollution and damaged coral reef, drawing attention to the harm that plastic waste causes to the environment.

The crew is living quite the “green” lifestyle during this voyage, which will take several months.  Fresh food is grown in a hydroponic vertical garden attached to the back mast and watered with urine, along with a sprout garden for growing herbs.  No refrigeration on board means that food is dehydrated or canned, and there is a gas stove to cook hot meals.   A freshwater catchment system in the cabin top collects rainwater for drinking and washing.  A vacuum water evaporator also desalinates sea water, turning it in to drinking water.  The cabin, which is removable for land use, houses a composting toilet that uses earthworms and coconut husks to break down waste.

Before you attempt to ponder the ironic symbolism of a plastic boat keeping a crew of anti-plastic environmentalists afloat on the vast Pacific Ocean, visit the official Plastiki website to track the voyage, view photos and videos, and read the crew’s blog.  If you decide that saving the planet is important, you can go to My Plastiki to make a pledge to reduce plastic waste by eliminating plastic bottles, plastic bags and Styrofoam from your lifestyle.  The crew is seeking to get 12,500 pledges – one for every plastic bottle used to build the boat.

President’s Cancer Panel recommends Water Filters

In a new report, the President’s Cancer Panel recommends the use of water filters and reusable water bottles to reduce cancer causing agents. While the President’s Cancer Panel acknowledges that public water filtration plants remove some contaminants, it also maintains that “current technologies cannot remove them all.”

The 240-page report examined a variety of chemicals, contaminants and hazards that can enter our water, soil and air through a variety of sources, such as industrial, agricultural, technological, medical and natural.

“Filtering home tap or well water can decrease exposure to numerous known or suspected carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Unless the home water source is known to be contaminated, it is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.”

Many of the water filters we carry reduce the contaminants featured in the report, including Atrazine and other herbicides or pesticides, Radon, Mercury, Bisphenol-A, phosphate, arsenic, and “endocrine disrupting chemicals” such as DDT / DDE, pesticides, bisphenol A, and some metals.

We also carry water filters that will remove many of the by-products that result from disinfects like chlorine. These inclue chloroform, bromoform and other trihalomethanes (THMs).

Since they advocate against bottled water, you’re probably wondering what they recommend for transporting your filtered tap water:

“Storing and carrying water in stainless steel, glass, or BPA- and phthalate-free containers will reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting and other chemicals that may leach  into water from plastics. This action also will decrease the need for plastic bottles, the manufacture of which produces toxic by-products, and reduce the need to dispose of and recycle plastic bottles.”

Later, the report states that biologically-active levels of BPA were found in an estimated 93 percent of Americans.

We have several reusable water bottles, including a line of Klean Kanteen water bottles. These are stainless steel water bottles and, in accordance with the above recommendation, they are BPA free water bottles. If you are a parent, you might want to consider the Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup, since “children are far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults.”

Should Your School Ban Bottled Water?

With all the recent buzz about the dangers of bottled water, we thought we’d look into the issue a bit more.  Within the last few years, we’ve found that there have been several campaigns on university campuses to ban the sale of plastic water bottles.  Many of these campaigns have resulted in successful bans, but the debate remains heated.  Should colleges and universities ban the sale of bottled water on campus? Strong arguments exist for both sides of the debate.  We have written an article entitled, “Should Universities Ban Bottled Water,” which lists the main reasons for and against a bottled water ban.  This list applies, not just to university campuses, but to any place that is or has been in the middle of a campaign to ban bottled water.

Can you think of any arguments that are not included in this list?  Let us know what you think, and don’t forget to cast your vote in our most recent poll on this issue.