Banking heir and adventurer David de Rothschild

On the heels of his previous eco-voyages—such as crossing the Greenland Icecap in record time in 2005—David de Rothschild is working on a new project he calls “Plastiki.” The banking heir, sponsored by the International Watch Company, a Swiss watchmaker, is building a raft out of recycled plastic bottles, on which he and a crew will journey across the Pacific Ocean this spring. Along the way, he’ll explore a largely uncharted area called the “Eastern Garbage Patch,” a mass of trash in the ocean estimated to be twice the size of Texas that has become a fascination among environmentalists.

de Rothschild: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images; sails: Neil Rabinowitz/Corbis; wheel, hat: Jupiterimages; water bottle: Getty Images