10-14-09

Creativity vs. The Plastic Plague

marcus_colahoga

Early in the morning on Saturday, October 3rd, Edgewater Beach became the venue for a boat race meant to bring awareness to the exorbitant amount of plastic that makes its way to the world’s lakes and oceans. Led by Cathi Lehn of the Biodiversity Alliance and Dr. Marcus Eriksen of the California-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, teams from throughout Cuyahoga County arrived with their self-made boats. The eleven small boats, constructed entirely from plastic bottles and otherwise discarded objects, were carefully carried down by the teams to the water’s edge of Lake Erie. The large crowd watched nervously as the teams pushed their crafts onto the water and the selected team members got on board. Would their boats even float?

lovecraft_teamThis question was certainly on the mind of the LoveCraft’s team, comprised of members from the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, the Green City Blue Lake Institute and Environmental Health Watch. In a boat building workshop the week before, Dr. Eriksen had given the rule of thumb, “One two-liter bottle will support one kilogram.” But did he then say to use enough bottles for double the weight or was that just because of the metric system? Well, the team would find out when they hit the water.

As the brave skippers, Marc Lefkowitz and Mandy Metcalf, boarded the LoveCraft, the team was surprised by how little their recycled matress framed rig sunk in the water. The additional pontoons made from discarded wildberry sno cone syrup bottles must have done the trick! Now the LoveCrafters would have to face the 300 feet of Lake Erie out to the marker canoe, make the turn around it, and paddle back to shore against the prevailing wind. They would also have to watch out for the favored boat that day; a sleak two pontoon vessel covered in saran wrap designed by Medina high school students.

lovecraft_finishThe LoveCraft held her own as the skippers paddled furiously to the shoreline, but was just edged out of third place by another Medina craft skippered by two students wearing batman and robin costumes.  Maybe the extra pontoons could have been placed closer to the edge in order to make a more hydrodynamic design? Maybe they weren’t needed at all? When trying to determine the right balance of plastic needed, it might be better to favor on the side of simply using less.

For more info on what can be done to combat the plastic plague and for more photos of the regatta, visit the GreenCityBlueLake Institute blog. For behind the scenes shots of the crafting of the LoveCraft, visit our CUDC Flickr stream.

by david jurca

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