“Plastiki” screens Saturday, May 26, 9.pm. and Sunday, May 27, 12 p.m., Sheridan Opera House
In “The Graduate,” Benjamin Braddock, (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate, gets cornered at a party by a well-intentioned suit, a friend of his father, who assures the young lad a golden future can be summed up in one word: plastic. The good news is the friend was right. Plastics were and remain a growth industry. The bad news is the friend was right. As a result of our use and abuse of the substance, plastic waste has evolved into a ubiquitous threat to the natural world.
In 2009, de Rothschild, an eco-adventurer and environmental activist, and the team at his nonprofit, myoo.com, designed and built of one-of-a-kind, 60-foot, fully recyclable catamaran made buoyant by 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles. In tribute to Thor Heyerdahl’s Pacific crossing in 1947 on a raft called the “Kon-Tiki,” David named his boat Plastiki.
Early in 2010, de Rothschild and his crew of 100 of leading scientists, adventurers, thought leaders and creatives set sail 10,000 nautical miles across oceans via a number of ecologically threatened regions, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The “Patch” is an island of waste plastic trapped in a gyre of currents in the north Pacific between Hawaii and Japan about twice the size of Texas and growing. The journey, which came to dramatic close after four months in Sydney Harbor, Australia – and the message – were seen and heard around the world by millions.
And now millions more will learn about the devastating effects of single-use plastics through “Plastiki,” one of 80 entertaining and important films screened this year at the 34th annual Mountainfilm in Telluride.
Just how important is de Rothschild’s message, echoed in an earlier Mountainfilm hit, the locally made hit “Bag It?” Read on and weep.
In the U.S. alone, two million plastic bottles are consumed every five minutes, but less than 25% are recycled. Fourteen million pounds of that trash end up in the ocean each year. Plastic debris resembles plankton—fish food—and there is 40 times more plastic than plankton in some parts of the ocean. (That is just one way plastic enters our food chain.) It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and sea birds die every year from becoming entangled in or ingesting plastic debris.
De Rothschild followed Plastiki with another adventure. In November 2011, as part of MYOO’s ARTiculate series, he and a core crew traveled into the heart of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest to discover the effects the controversial Belo Monte dam project is having on the local community.
Behind the physical feats his adventures represent is de Rothschild’s relentless passion for educating others with humor, not a cudgel. He has taken his call to action to millions of individuals across all demographics, from children to world leaders, from NGO’s to NASA, from industry to non-profits, from Oprah Winfrey to Nickelodeon. Now we welcome the change-maker to Moutnainfilm.
For a preview of “Plastiki,”watch the trailer: