Advocate uses dumped, plastic bottles to build boat for Sydney Harbour race

Bright idea: Paige Birkinhead with her boat and work mates from Sea Life Sydney Aquarium Ben Maslen (centre) and Jason Steward (left). Picture: Chris LaneKogarah’s PaigeBirkinhead will paddle across the Sydney Harbour this weekend on her handcrafted boatmade out of 600 plastic bottles.
Nanjing Night Net

Ms Birkinhead has long been involved in dive cleans and beach cleans around Sydneycollecting plastic waste.

The SeaLifeSydney Aquariumemployee has come up with a brightidea to raise awareness about the damage plastic waste has onanimals and the environment.

She recently collected over 1000 dumped,plastic bottlesand has built a boat out of the waste, entering her boatinto the 11km Manly Wharf Bridge to Beach event on Sunday.

“Plastic bottles aresomething that we do find a huge amount of. And I wanted people to really think about plastic usage,” she said. “There is about 500 million plastic bottles produced in Australia each year and only 36 per cent are recycled.”

She said plastic waste was very damaging andshe would love for people to recycle more as well as keep a single drink bottle toreuse, rather than buying lots of drinks inplastic bottles.

“Rather than buying a bottle of water just fill up a drink bottle and reuse it–it does massively reduce the waste,” she said. “Basically I am trying to show people how many plastic bottles there are [being dumped] and start the conversationof what other options are there.”

The Manly Wharf Bridge to Beachrace onSunday starts underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge and heads 11km to Manly.

Her boat has taken over a month to buildand she said it was definitely her first engineering feat in terms of building a water craft.

“There has been a lot of trial and error,” she said with a laugh.

“It is the first boat I’ve ever built. It is made out of bottles and milk crates to give it some stability.

“The boat will have about 600 bottles incorporated.”

She said she was expecting a long day on Sunday getting across the harbour with herteam, from Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.

“We have four people paddling in the event. There is two on the boat at a time and we will switch during the day because it is 11km long. It will be a big day.”

TheBureau of Meteorology is predicting relatively poor weather on Sunday, with overcast weather and showers expected.

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