PLASTIQU’ADOUR: An Eco-Adventure Aboard a Plastic Bottle Canoe

Joffrey Maluski and Loïc Forques share their journey along the Adour River, in France, on a boat constructed from bamboo and 600 plastic bottles. Together, they assembled the boat and used bikes to tow it to the source of the Adour River where they then paddled the length of the river to meet the ocean at Anglet.

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Joffrey and Loic sit in their plastic water bottle canoe on the Adour river, with their bikes loaded on the front of the canoe

 

Plastiqu’Adour ensued after both myself and Loic returned from two very incredible trips. I had just returned from a three-month bikepacking trip in Iceland and Loic had recently completed a four-week sailing trip around Lake Victoria in Africa aboard a dhow made entirely from recycled plastic. The objective of Loic’s trip (The Flip Flopi expedition) was to meet African schoolchildren, politicians and communities and raise to raise awareness about the use of plastic, its excessive consumption, and the need to recycle it. It was here that the idea for Plastiqu’Adour was born.

“The goal of our expedition was to raise awareness of the plastic waste cycle coming down from the mountains and ending in the ocean, while showing that adventures can happen close to home with minimal resources. We chose the Adour River because, like most other rivers these days, it’s severely polluted by plastic.

With the current climate crisis, we felt that now more than ever it is important to raise awareness of the issues surrounding non-recyclable waste. Plastic materials take centuries to degrade and all the plastic that has ever been sent to landfills still exists. It’s frequently either dumped carelessly on land or in rivers before ending up in the ocean, where it threatens marine life. Our attitudes and behaviours towards plastic must change to ensure a safe and healthy future for our planet.

The boat itself was our first prototype. We’d found some examples on the internet and took inspiration from others’ successful builds. Our main concerns were the robustness, stability, and handling as we knew we’d have lots of dams and dikes to cross, as well as areas with low water levels and big rocks. However, we were really pleased – and quietly confident – with our final result. The boat was robust, buoyant, and stable, but a little too heavy and not the easiest to manoeuvre.

The main issue we had was with our trailer, which proved to be quite unreliable. The boat weighed around 90kg, which led to the tyres on the trailer wearing out very quickly and eventually bursting under the weight of the boat. With such an unconventional setup, we were forced to be creative when things broke, and repair them with parts we could source locally.”

“The main takeaway message from our journey and film is re-purposing and reducing waste. With much of the waste in the river being low-cost goods with inherently shorter lifespans, we focused on re-use and repair where possible. Even our bikepacking bags came from Apidura’s Revive Program, so had previously lived other lives before being used on our adventure. Rather than condemning worn or damaged gear to landfill, embracing repairs and longevity reduces unnecessary waste – and even saves you a bit of money too. Just because something is second-hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is inferior! The Revive packs have been repaired and cleaned like new, ready for a second life, which is very much in line with the message we wanted to share with this project.

On my adventures and various projects, I am usually fully self-sufficient. I carry my own tent, sleeping bag, stove, food, water, photo/video equipment etc., which is a lot of equipment. Everything must be optimized in terms of weight and quality; I need to have 100% confidence in the equipment I’m carrying. Good quality gear that lasts can be expensive, but in the long term, it’s cheaper and helps reduce waste, unlike low-cost products with short lifecycles that are designed to be discarded and replaced. During our three months riding in Iceland, we wore some small holes on our Apidura packs due to really bad road conditions. We were able to easily repair these holes with a few Apidura Revive Patches and the packs were ‘good as new’ again, ready for Plastiqu’Adour. Soon, they will accompany on their fourth expedition from France to the North Cape which we are planning on undertaking in February.”

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