It was 2006 in my Norwegian hometown of Bergen, and I was sixteen years old. One summer day, me and a friend set sail on a raft made of wood, empty plastic bottles, and pure determination.
And we did so with several members of the local press watching.
This was all the idea of that friend of mine. We were to gather and collect empty soda bottles and such, then use them as flotation in a raft
Later we were planing to get the deposit for the plastic containers, and donate the money to the Save the Children Fund. But before that we would invite newspapers to cover our journey around a local bay, to help spread more awareness to the Save the Children organisation.
I can’t remember how long we spent on this project, but I think it was quite a while. I think my friend did most of the actual building, as we kept the raft in his garden before launch.
But it also took some time to collect enough bottles. We had start going door to door collecting them in the neighborhood, explaining that it was for a good cause.
Finally the day had come for our launch!
But we had not anticipated how hard it would be to get the raft all the way down to the bay, from our neighborhood that was pretty much up on a small mountain.
I think we did have some wheels or something, but they broke under the weight of the raft. Or maybe we were planning to carry it, and it was too heavy. Can’t really remember.
In any case, we ended up sliding it along some leftover planks we had. Moving the planks from the raft to the front as we went along. Do you know the scenes from the movie Fitzcarraldo where they are moving a giant boat over a massive hill in Peru? This was pretty much a miniature version of that.
It took way longer than we had anticipated, but we eventually made our way down to the bay. We even got a ride from a pickup truck on the last leg of our journey, which helped immensely.
Now it was time to launch our ship, bask in the glory, and start our journey!
Obviously, the raft fell apart almost immediately upon touching the water.
Now with all those media people around us, this was quite embarrassing. Not only that, but we now had to spend the rest of the evening collecting the bottles and wood that were floating in the water.
Still, the event did make for some fun headlines, and we did scrape together a little money for a good cause. But not as much as we had hoped. Turns out, there’s not actually that much money to be gotten out of plastic bottles.
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