Three years ago, adventurer, entrepreneur and activist David de Rothschild sailed from San Francisco to Sydney on a catamaran made of 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles.
His goal with the Plastiki project was to bring awareness to environmental issues like global warming and plastic pollution, and he has continued to stay active in the environmental movement. Most recently, de Rothschild signed on as an advisor to WHOLE WORLD Water, a three-year campaign that aims to unite the hospitality and tourism industry to combat global clean water issues.
Launched on March 22 to coincide with World Water Day, WHOLE WORLD Water uses a social enterprise model to generate funds for the clean water movement. The process of signing on is relatively simple. First, hotels and restaurants sign on to the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign for a nominal per-property fee. Then, they use the suggested Vivreau water filtration system to filter, bottle and sell their own water to guests. Finally, they donate 10 percent of the proceeds to the WHOLE WORLD Water fund, which benefits safe, sustainable clean water projects in the places that need it most.
Founders Karena Albers and Jenifer Willig estimate that if the world’s three largest hotel groups joined the campaign and sold just one bottle of water per day, the campaign could raise up to $1 billion for its mission, while contributing up to 25 percent toward the company’s bottom line. The campaign has already signed on a number of well-known hotel groups, including Virgin, Dusit and Banyan Tree, along with a number of restaurants, nightclubs and Ritz Carlton properties. Advisors include high-profile names like Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson, designer Yves Behar, actor and filmmaker Edward Norton and de Rothschild.
In an email exchange, de Rothschild shared with Gadling what sailing the Plastiki taught him about the world’s water supply, why he decided to sign onto the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign and what travelers can do to get on board.
What did sailing the Plastiki teach you about the world’s water supply?
What the Plastiki taught me is sometimes it’s just as important to unlearn as it is to learn. We had to unlearn that it wasn’t all plastic that was the issue, but rather dumb uses of the material. And more importantly it was about redefining the story we tell ourselves about the value of the material – moving it away from valueless to valuable. That in turn will then have an influence over how we use and reuse. I believe the same applies to water issues; we all have to start to leave behind the concept that we have an endless supply of water, if we are to have any chance of creating a future.
Why did you decide to sign on to the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign?
I can’t see any reason not to! I have been working for a while now to ban plastic straws across the world of hospitality so this seems like an easy and logical extension.
Why tackle hospitality of all industries?
Has to be a whole system approach to have an impact!
What will the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign achieve that other water campaigns haven’t?
That’s yet to be seen, but I have no doubt with such a great team behind the campaign it will produce something positive!
What can travelers do to support the efforts of the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign?
Just say no to plastic water bottles! And encourage establishments that you come into contact with who haven’t engaged to sign up!
[Photo Credit: WHOLE WORLD Water]