Taking charge of our sustainable future with David de Rothschild
4 minute read
Environmental activist and Hyundai IONIQ ambassador David de Rothschild discusses sustainable mobility, the power of ‘what ifs’, and the time he sailed around the world in a boat made of plastic bottles….
As an explorer, who has traversed some of the world’s toughest environments, taking charge is something that comes naturally to David de Rothschild. He’s been harnessing his curious spirit and articulate speeches to help give Nature a voice and make the world a more sustainable place for the last two decades. His Plastiki project, a boat made of used plastic bottles, has brought global awareness to plastic waste, which is ending up in the oceans and now threatening marine wildlife and ecosystems.
As Hyundai’s ambassador for sustainable mobility since 2016, David is not only helping unearth innovative solutions to tackle our most pressing problems, but he uses innovative storytelling to inspire a movement around how we can all live more sustainably. It’s our mutual respect for the future that has driven our collaborations in the past, and allowed us to look forward with IONIQ electric cars.
Despite having witnessed first hand the impact of climate change and human industry on some of the planet’s most fragile ecosystems, David remains boldly confident that if we can all work together and act now, then there is still a chance we can turn things around and continue to live on ‘spaceship earth’.
Has there been a moment in your career where
you really felt in charge of making
a positive impact on the world?
Back in 2006, I started reading about plastic accumulating in our oceans, and realised this was a human fingerprint on our planet that we could no longer ignore.
To showcase that waste can be a resource and that we are only limited by our imaginations, we ended up building The Plastiki, a fully recyclable 60ft catamaran made of 12,500 plastic bottles. The Plastiki became our home for four and a half months as we sailed across the Pacific ocean from San Francisco, USA, to Sydney, Australia.
Building a boat out of plastic bottles must have come with some challenges. How did you deal with them?
When you work in the environmental space, you’re constantly being challenged but when the issues we face are so important and there is no planet B, you have to take charge. Success is the only option.
When you work in the environmental space, you’re constantly being challenged but when the issues we face are so important and there is no planet B, you have to take charge. Success is the only option. DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD
Many of us want to take charge and make
a positive impact on the planet but don’t know
where to start. Any tips?
One of the biggest challenges is to remain curious and keep challenging the status quo and the ‘that’s just the way we’ve always done it’ mentality.
It’s about turning around and swimming upstream. It’s about taking a different path and exploring new ways and it’s through that curious exploration that you can find new ways of acting, new ways of being and new ways of doing.
As we move into a world that’s becoming more linear, more automated and absolute, the idea of exploring unknowns and finding new paths is going to be harder. We need to think big, think out of the box and take charge. We need to explore a new future.
As an individual, you are just one of eight billion people in this world. Is it really possible to make an impact?
Never underestimate the impact of an individual to shift culture and effect change. Greta Thunberg, a brave young leader, is a shining example of exactly this. She has mobilised a global movement to stand up and take action to tackle climate change.
We need more inspirational individuals who are brave enough to drive conversations and drive change.
What would you do if you were in charge of the world for a day?
I would give people the access, time, and space to be outside in nature, to realise how incredible this planet is. If we can all get outside and feel nature, we can start to understand it. When you start to understand it, you begin to respect it. When you respect it, you will want to protect it.
What is the first step in taking charge as an individual?
Act now, don’t wait. Start taking action today. Be a voice for Nature. There is no time to lose. That’s the most important thing any person can do.
This year, David will not only be bringing Plastiki back on her 10 year anniversary to inspire, activate and educate the world about solutions to plastic waste, but he will also be acting as an advisor on sustainable mobility for Hyundai IONIQ. The collaboration between Hyundai and David de Rothschild is designed to help people see how they can minimize their individual impact on the planet and make a difference in terms of finding more sustainable ways to move.
For more information on the Plastiki, see www.theplastiki.com