This man, who belongs to the richest family in the world – the only trillionaires – doesn’t mind what is said behind his back because his eyes are set on the future. He admits that his motivation was, at first, selfish; driven by his lust for adventure, he joined fellow explorers in their endeavor to set a world record. However, upon seeing how the seas were being treated, along with reading enlightening literature, he saw what other environmentalists see regularly. Since then, life for him has not been the same. Whatever he does, he always considers how it may impact the rest of the world.
The results of this change of heart are “Plastiki,” “Adventure Ecology” and “Myoo,” among many others. When we look at David’s track record – from being an athlete to becoming an environmentalist – we see he’s not the type of guy who would be comfortable only with inexhaustible wealth. He’s making a name of his own, and the way he does so is a noble undertaking. It’s not easy to get involved in causes that have near-impossible goals, but what keeps him going is the belief that, with hard work, people can succeed together.
Still single, David is one of the most eligible bachelors around. But women don’t seem to be near the top of his list; he’s busy saving what’s left of our waters.
Googling David Mayer de Rothschild will provide more than enough information about his family’s mysterious – and sometimes unbelievable – family wealth. Not only are they rich, but they are the richest among the rich. They even have their own mythology. The Rothschild family’s wealth goes back to the time when banking was still in its earliest form; before stocks ruled the world, the House of Rothschild ruled it already. Their sheer business cunning allowed them to remain in power for centuries.
David Mayer de Rothschild is the youngest child of Victoria Lou Schott and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. He was born on 25 August 1978 in London, England. His two siblings are Anthony de Rothschild and Jessica de Rothschild. Being born into such a wealthy family, David had everything he could’ve asked for. When he took a liking to horses, he was indulged. He kept practicing and even made it to Junior Olympics! With their resources, of course, he learned from the best trainers available.
But David never relied solely on his family’s influence; he didn’t like getting things without working for them. He soon outgrew his love of horses, as he realized there is more to life than horses and riding.
Education and Business Exploits
After Harrow School, David enrolled at Oxford Brookes. He completed a degree in Political Science and Information Systems and even received an academic distinction. Having always been curious, he loved to be in nature. Whenever the family had get-togethers, David would always go missing. He was privileged to do whatever he pleased and, by 2002, he received an advanced Diploma in Natural Medicine from the College of Naturopathic Medicine, London. He was already a businessman in his own right by the time he turned 20. He also started his own music company, but eventually sold it.
His next venture was farming. David bought a 1,100-acre organic farm in New Zealand in 2001. Always drawn to nature, David worked hard and invested much to improve the farm and make it bankable. The investment, however, did not take off because he didn’t have the time to oversee it himself; according to the locals, he was hardly seen in the area. He eventually sold the property.
Later that year, David was invited to join a polar expedition. It sparked a new passion within him: adventure. He was entirely ready to see what’s out there and enjoy the ride. But, aside from having the time of his life, he discovered much about the seas and how we dispose of our garbage.
As a matter of fact, his life was so impacted by crossing the seas that his next endeavor would focus on taking care of our water. What he discovered was the sad reality of our garbage footprint. He saw what other environmentalists have seen: the Pacific Garbage Patch. Experts say it is a patch the size of the U.S. state of Texas which is composed entirely of plastic and other non-degradable materials. He realized that what we throw away has not been lost; instead, it is only dumped somewhere else. Unfortunately, we are polluting our very own waters and, in effect, consuming our own waste.
He realized that unless we take action in caring for our environment and become more careful of how we consume plastic, we’ll eventually be buried in our own waste. He works to enlighten others about what lies ahead in the future, should we continue to live carelessly.
“Adventure Ecology” and “Plastiki”
In 2006, David embarked on yet another expedition, as part of a 42-man team which crossed Russia and Canada via the Arctic. David became the youngest British citizen to ever cross both poles. Beforehand, he also became one of the 14 adventurers to cross Antarctica, setting a world record for completing the expedition.
David cannot just stay indifferent towards what’s happening around him, especially with all he has seen. So, despite the big work that lay ahead, he has shifted his career towards environmentalism. It was not welcomed by many, however, and was generally viewed as hypocritical – all because he is a Rothschild.
Nevertheless, David followed his calling and set up the website “Mission Control,” a platform for him to highlight his expeditions, in 2006. David wanted to create a thirst for adventure among our youth only that is pre-empted not by selfish gratification, but a universal cause. This gave way to “Adventure Ecology,” an organization that aims to create a network for young people to interact and discuss climate change, global warming and other environmental issues. “Adventure Ecology” targets today’s youth, as David believes they are essential to the long-term success of his initiatives.
Despite the criticisms hurled at David for his family ties, he continues to look for ways to improve our waters. He wrote "The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook: 77 Essential Skills to Stop Climate Change—Or Live Through It" and made it available to the public in 2007. This was followed by the release of "The Boy The Girl The Tree" in 2008. He also assisted in publishing commentary for the book “Antarctica - The Global Warning.”
But writing could only do so much, and David wanted to do something he considered more valuable. He devised a way to create a boat made of reclaimed materials to raise awareness about the fate of our seas, and called it “Plastiki.” The name was inspired by Thor Heyerdahl, an explorer who named his raft “Kon-Tiki.”
“Plastiki” is not to be underestimated; a great deal of work and research went into the making of David’s 100% environmentally-friendly boat, and it has certainly seen some mileage. A total of 12,500 2-liter plastic bottles were used, and they also fashioned glue out of cashew and sugar. The “Plastiki” was named one of 2010's fifty best inventions by Time Magazine.
But recognition is only one way to get people to hear you out; the star of the show is nothing other than the cause David espouses. It sounds cliché, but at least he uses innovative means to gain attention!
Aside from “Plastiki,” David also led expeditions and aired them through “ARTiculate Expeditions,” another initiative to raise awareness of environmental causes. He also started “Mpact” to help teach people how to lessen their carbon/waste footprints. No matter what others say about the unlikely success of his projects, David does not lose heart.
When asked why it’s so important to him, he explains:
"I think you have to work with everybody, because we are all on the same spaceship. It’s not like there’s an escape capsule. We all have impacts – and business has the biggest impact of all. But business can also be the biggest driver of change. We have to look at that, and the traditional environmentalists should stop saying: You are a massive disaster for society. We are just going to point the finger at you for doing that. Rather than saying: Well, hang on for a second. If you are creating this impact, you can un-create it. You can help to lessen the impact." (SOURCE: Egon Zehnder)
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Sculpt the Future Foundation
- Adventure Ecology organization
- The “Plastiki”
- Myoo (now known as World-Exposure agency)
- Adventure Ecology’s ARTiculate series
- Clean Up the World
- Climate Care
Awards and Achievements
- Founded “Sculpt the Future Foundation”
- Received an advanced Diploma in Natural Medicine
- Started [and sold] his own music merchandising business at 20 years old
- One of only 14 people to ever traverse the continent of Antarctica
- Was part of the record-breaking team responsible for the fastest-ever crossing of the Greenland ice cap
- The “Plastiki” was named one of 2010's fifty best inventions by Time Magazine
- Founded “Mpact”
- Named an "Emerging Explorer" by National Geographic
- Appointed as an “International Ambassador" by NGO Clean up the World
- Nominated as a "Young Global Leader" by the World Economic Forum
- Built “Plastiki” out of 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles
- 2003: Second on Tatler Magazine's list of the “Hottest Bachelors in the United Kingdom”
- 2006: Started “Adventure Ecology,” launched the website “Mission Control” and became the youngest British citizen to ever reach both Poles
- 2007: Published "The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook: 77 Essential Skills to Stop Climate Change—Or Live Through It"
- 2007: Was named one of GQ Magazine's “Men of the Year”
- 2008: Published "The Boy The Girl the Tree"
- 2008: Helped publish commentary for the book “Antarctica - The Global Warning”
- 2008: Won the Kids' Choice Awards UK’s "Greenie Award”
- 2009: Named by the United Nations Environment Program as a "Climate Hero”
- 2011: Served on the judging panels for the “International Green Awards” and “Climate Week Awards”
- 2012: Developed “Eco Trip: The Real Cost of Living”
Wikipedia (David Mayer de Rothschild)
Rodale News (The 50 Sexiest Environmentalists)
New Yorker (Message in a Bottle)
The New York Times (After the Silver Spoon, a Green Life)
Outside Online (On Top of the World)
TreeHugger (Plastiki Completes 8,000 Nautical Mile Journey Protesting Plastic Pollution)
Time (The Plastic-Bottle Boat)
ABC News (Adventure on the High Seas Raises Environmental Awareness)
TreeHugger (The TH Interview: David de Rothschild - Part 1)
Facebook (The Plastiki Expedition)
National Geographic (David de Rothschild: Environmental Storyteller)
TreeHugger (David de Rothschild Prepares for a New Adventure in the Amazon)
Egon Zehnder (“Curiosity is one of the mainsprings of change.”)
The Wall Street Journal (David de Rothschild's Favorite Things)
Psychopedia (Banking Scion On The World's Biggest Hot Potato David de Rothschild: Modern Day Steve Zissou)
Stuff (British heir sells off chunk of farm)