Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New sponsors and volunteers join Junk

The last week has been a watershed for Junk. Hopefully helping us keep Junk out of our watersheds....

On our final weekend of construction before needing to get the raft off the Aquarium lawn and into the water, volunteers and support poured in from all ends. Critical help at the 11th hour.

Saturday and Sunday, during a suffocating heat wave, volunteers showed up to help toil and sweat, pulling labels off hundreds of plastic bottles, stuffing bottles into old nets to form pontoons, and keeping spirits high as the prospect of moving this massively heavy beast loomed in the air.

Here's the crew, mugging for the camera after several sweltering hours. AMRF board member Duane Laursen (with the Beach T) vacuumed upwards of 300 pounds of sand from the inside of our airplane cabin, while High School students from Lennox Academy sacrificed their Sunday to sweat for the cause.

We also had two new sponsors join the project - Kashi Cereal and Shifting Baselines.

Shifting Baselines director Randy Olson even trekked down to Long Beach to visit our site, and wrote about the project on their science blog.

All is coming together miraculously on schedule, including today's monumental feat - heaving the raft - airplane fuselage and all - into the water. Stay tuned, pix and stories to come. Read more!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chicago students on board

Students across the nation are pitching in to promote Message in a Bottle. As this groundswell continues gaining momentum, we're confident that major shifts in our disposable mentality will follow.....

Here, a group of students from Bell Elementary in Chicago are learning about plastic marine debris, and writing messages to their legislators to express their concern.

We "met" these students on our last Gyre voyage - they followed our blog, and were inspired to do more as a community.

So their green committee decided to support Junk by sponsoring two cases of bottles, organizing a letter writing campaign, and studying marine conservation in their classroom.

A huge thanks to Katherine Miller, the Parent Green Committee, and the wonderful students of Bell Elementary for joining us on this important mission. Read more!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Students helping to build Junk

Junk is beginning to take shape! Thanks to the incredible help of Samohi's Team Marine and the Environmental Charter High School's Green Ambassadors, we'll have our first few pontoons built by the end of the week.

Here's the "mock up" above, the skeleton of what Junk will look like - aluminum shipping masts lashed together to create a massive, recycled foundation.

The frame will perch atop 4, 30-foot long pontoons made out of plastic bottles and derelict fishing net, collected from Port Townsend, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and possibly New Orleans in a few weeks.....

Each pontoon provides roughly 2,000 pounds of buoyancy, adding up to 8,000 pounds total - more than enough to carry our two lean sailors, the airplane fuselage they'll live in for 6 weeks, a ton of supplies, and just enough chocolate to keep Marcus fueled.

Here are some Green Ambassadors getting busy with bottles after school - washing, de-labeling, making sure caps are super tight, and laying in a trough lined with derelict fishing net.

This mass of bottles will be wrapped with a few more layers of net, and voila - our first light weight, low cost, functional pontoon. 1 down, 3 to go......

Read more!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Treehugger covers Junk

One of our favorite green rags, Treehugger, wrote a nice piece here on Junk last week.

With one correction - while we were 6 on the ORV Alguita's January Gyre crossing, there will only be two intrepid sailors on this voyage, Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal. The nature of this undertaking calls for a light, tight crew.

Anna Cummins will be maintaining PR and blog from land, and praying for Junk's speedy return.

From the comments on the Treehugger post, it seems there is still quite a bit of confusion about the size of the Gyre (twice the size of Texas, the US, or the Moon?) as well as the feasibility of cleanup. There has been an explosion of recent press about the Gyre, and with it, many myths are perpetuated.

This is part of our mission: to debunk the many urban legends floating around, and to bring people the straight junk, so we can stop junk at the source. Read more!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The bottle collection begins

Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Burbank Recycling Center, we picked up our first couple van loads of plastic bottles last week!

2,000 down. 18,000 to go.....

We connected with the Burbank Recycling Center through our friend Mark Cappellano, who introduced us last month to director Geoff Folsom and recycling coordinator Kreigh Hampel.

Here's Marcus, in deep conversation with Geoff about plastic waste.

Talking trash with these two was a whirlwind "recycling 101" - both are walking encyclopedias of all things recyclable. And definitely on the same sustainability page.

They stepped up BIG time to support "Message in a Bottle", offering to donate all 20,000 bottles for the project, putting us in touch with media and school contacts, and even getting their hands dirty with us.

Their very patient staff emptied container after container of bottles for us to sort through - we can only use bottles that held carbonated drinks, or thick plastic bottles like Gatorade.

Seeing the amount of water bottles compared to other drinks was pretty incredible, a good 80-90%. We are a without a doubt a thirsty bunch, and have swallowed the clever marketing gimmicks of the bottled water industry hook line and sinker.

Sorting through these all will take some time....Geoff and Kreigh will be seeing quite a bit of us in the coming weeks! Read more!