Saturday, March 13, 2010

Earth Day, Earth Hour, & the Plastiki

It’s an exciting time. Not only because the spring thaw is coming to the MidAtlantic States and is successfully melting off the 3 feet of snow we’ve gotten in the last month. Not only because there’s a hint of warmth in the air. (True, that is exciting in and of itself). Also not only due to our current week off of school--“Spring Break.” (Again, to teachers and students alike, nirvana!)

No, it is an exciting time because the next month holds some pretty impressive Earth events. Earth Hour, Earth Day, and the departure of Plastiki…3 eco-events that are eye-opening events, bringing about both environmental awareness and activism.

Starting with the most well-known, and the one furthest down the pike, “Earth Day” is just over a month away on Thursday, April 22nd. Slated by some as the 40th anniversary (or would that be 41st?), this marks a breakthrough year given the first Earth Day began in 1970. Time-honored day to celebrate our planet. Given it’s a month away: more on that later.

Closer on our calendar is “Earth Hour.” This is newer on our list of eco-dates. 2007 marked the first of what has now become an annual event. It began that year in Sydney, Australia. By 2008, 35 countries and 50 million people took part. 2009 enlisted 4000 cities in 88 countries, which made Earth Hour the world’s largest environmental movement addressing climate change. This year it returns on Saturday, March 27th from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. What is this “hour of power” all about? It’s about personal involvement and responsibility….and your light switch. It’s about the little act of turning that switch off as a sign and symbol of one’s commitment to our planet and taking a stand against climate change. By turning off your lights, for just that hour in your time zone, a “wave” of activism will overtake our planet, akin to the spectator support of the “hand wave” at a football game. As cities, historic buildings, and global landmarks across the continents turn off their lights, our planet unifies over a common theme…that of people honoring and dedicating themselves to the longevity of this li’l Earth of ours. It’s worth marking the calendar for and being a part of something meaningful.

For more Earth Hour insights, go to:,,  and

Event #3: Around about the time of Earth Hour…if not a smidge before, is perhaps the most exciting of the three eco-events occurring because it’s an adventure, and it’s something that’s never occurred before. Somewhere in the next week to ten days, David de Rothschild and his crew will be embarking on a high seas adventure slightly longer than Gilligan’s “3 hour tour” a vessel a tad more innovative than the Minnow of “Gilligan’s Island’s” and even more creative than Captain Stubing’s “Love Boat.” The Plastiki has run its sea trials and is getting geared up to sail the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia. An ocean cruise might not seem all that inspiring, yet when the catamaran-esque ship that is tackling those 12,000 miles is ship made up entirely of plastic bottles and recycled products, it brings about a new light on the subject. Add in, the purpose of the 100+ day journey is to trek on a recycled ship through the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch (an oceanic dump-pile of human trash-matter that is twice the size of Texas swirling in the center of the ocean)…people start standing up and taking notice. Taking notice, perhaps, of things they didn’t even know were out there.

Some might wonder “what’s the big deal” to have all this trash out where it seemingly doesn’t hurt anyone, but being a person who likes to eat seafood, it’s a little disconcerting to me that (in David de Rothschild’s own words) “there are 6 bits of plastic to every bit of plankton.” Not to mention a garbage patch in each of the oceans (with the Pacific one surpassing them all in size). I’m hoping the fish I have for dinner has made its way through a plastic-free food chain since plastic doesn’t fully break down at sea and totally disappear—ever! Odds of that happening though, with a 6:1 ratio of plastic (bite-sized bits of which are called “nurdles”) to plankton is probably nil.

Given all of that, I’m very intrigued to see what David de Rothschild discovers en route to Sydney via the Plastiki.

To follow “Expedition Plastiki,” take your own expedition to  or for videos, photos, info, and more.

Picture courtesy of


  1. This is wonderful. I love your writing. If I were a classroom teacher I would make this blog required reading.

  2. You are the bomb!!! Thanks to you I am better at recycling and much more aware of the world around me....ok...maybe I am a bit bias but you are still someone to look up to!!!

  3. Thank humble me. Hugs, V