Adventure on the High Seas Raises Environmental Awareness

David de Rothschild is sailing to Australia on a boat made of plastic bottles.

ByABC News via GMA logo
April 6, 2010, 2:14 PM

April 7, 2010— -- Nearly three weeks ago environmentalist David de Rothschild embarked on an 11,000 mile voyage across the Pacific Ocean in a 60-foot boat named "Plastiki," made from reclaimed plastic bottles.

Today Rothschild has traveled more than 1,500 nautical miles on his way to Australia to raise awareness about the amount of plastic that is floating in the world's oceans,much of it in massive garbage swills like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which according to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, is about the size of Texas and contains 1 million tons of plastic.

Rothschild said the plastic floating in the ocean is tiny molecular-size pieces that sit below the surface.

"You can't actually see them on top of the surface, but if you were to scoop up the water it's like a snow globe and it's full of tiny flecks of plastic," Rothschild said.

The Patch was discovered 10 years ago and since has doubled in size. Research has shown similar debris swills in the Atlantic Ocean.

Rothschild, heir to the famous banking and wine fortune, wants people to be aware that there are four items that contribute to a lot of the pollution in the ocean: plastic bags, Styrofoam, plastic soda and water bottles and the lids and tops from the soda and water bottles.

"Those four main items are ending up in our oceans. Two of which, the plastic bag and the Styrofoam, we could stop today. We have realistic alternatives," Rothschild told "Good Morning America."

Rothschild said he was inspired to make this trip after reading a report from the United Nations about marine debris.

"Here we have this human fingerprint, not only an environmental issue because of the millions of sea birds that are consuming and eating the plastic and marine mammals who eat the plastic, but also a health issue because of the fish that we eat from oceans is - basically the toxins that are getting into the fish is coming through the plastic," Rothschild said.

Then the environmentalist came up with "Plastiki," a boat made out of plastic bottles and powered by solar and wind energy.