[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Imagine you’re an idealistic teenager, snorkeling in a warm salty sea, seeing the ocean floor for the first time. Sure, you see the colorful parrotfish and rainbow wrasse, the swaying anemones and bony urchins, but nowadays you also see floating baggies, a Styrofoam bucket, some random bits of nylon netting, and a half-filled bottle bobbing on the surface. Something like this happened to Boyan Slat nearly a decade ago, when he was still in high school. Other teenagers might have organized a school club to clean up a local beach or started canvassing with an environmental group to stop single-use plastic bags, but Slat, a natural born engineer thought bigger. He came up with the idea for a passive collection system that works like a giant trash strainer, and he says, will clean up to 50% of the plastic currently in the ocean in 5 years.
At first, people laughed at this young man’s ideas telling him he was too young and inexperienced to know what he was talking about. Undaunted, he dropped out of university and founded a non-profit organization, “The Ocean Clean-up” and crowd-funded a feasibility study, completed in 2014, which showed the project to be efficient and financially viable. The press from back then was positive but guarded. Many reader comments suggested the idea was interesting but would never become a reality. Coming up with ideas is one thing, executing on them, however, takes a different sort of energy.
We are happy to report that now, four years later, the initial array has been launched and last week headed out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) to start its first large-scale clean-up effort. Boyan Slat commented, “Today’s launch is an important milestone, but the real celebration will come once the first plastic returns to shore. For 60 years, mankind has been putting plastic into the oceans; from that day onwards, we’re taking it back out again.” The first set of plastic removed from the ocean is slated to return to shore in about 6 months time.
Once successful, and if the funding is available, The Ocean Cleanup aims to scale up to a fleet of approximately 60 systems focused on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over the next two years. The Ocean Cleanup projects that the full fleet can remove half of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years’ time. This is in line with The Ocean Cleanup’s ultimate goal: reducing the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans by at least 90% by 2040.
One of the unique features of the Optimist Daily is our archive of solutions articles going back many years. The Ocean Clean-up project is one interesting thing we’ve been following over the years, and we’ve gathered a collection of these stories here:[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]
THE OCEAN CLEAN-UP PROJECT
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is the largest of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world’s oceans. The MegaExpedition, launched by the Ocean Cleanup in 2015, found that the garbage path measured 1.6 million kilometers, three times the size of France.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/0EyaTqezSzs”][vc_column_text]HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The Ocean Clean-up Project is the brainchild of teenage inventor and entrepreneur, Boylan Slat, who was only 16 when he came up with the initial concept. His perspective was, “this is a human created problem. It’s up to us to solve it.” He dropped out of university in 2015 to launch the Ocean Clean-up Project, a company designed to remove the larger plastic pieces that circulate in the ocean and collect in patches around the globe. It does not work for microparticles, which are also becoming seen to be a problem, but the sooner we can remove the larger pieces, the less likely they are to break down and contribute to the microplastic problem as well.
It started as a question… Can a two-kilometer long floating device remove plastic from the oceans ? (2015)
Two years ago the scourge of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and of the plastic pollution that jeopardizes marine ecosystems around the globe, inspired 19-year-old aerospace engineering student Boyan Slat to imagine the Ocean Cleanup Array. Next year this 2,000-meter long floating device is to be put to the test for two years off the island of Tsushima between South Korea and Japan. The ultimate goal? Clean up the GPGP in a decade while humanity figures out a way to stop dumping plastic into the oceans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ROW9F-c0kIQ”][vc_column_text]
Before cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can commence, researchers are flying over it at low-altitudes to get an account of just how much debris actually lies in the patch. What they have found so far is that it might just be worse than we originally thought, underlining the urgency needed to tackle the growing accumulation of plastic in the world’s oceans. Here’s a detailed look into the first aerial expeditions of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1349190″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]
Years ago, a young Dutch entrepreneur designed a system that could effectively clean up tons of plastic in the ocean using the water’s currents. Now that system is actually getting ready to launch a massive cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on September 8. The ultimate goal of the project is to clean up 50 percent of the patch in five years, with a 90 percent reduction by 2040.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1349192″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]
After five years of gathering money through crowdfunding and testing different prototypes, the Ocean Cleanup aimed at cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is finally heading out to sea. The Ocean Cleanup uses currents and waves to collect trash in the system’s center. Floating particles are captured by a skirt while the push of the water against the nets that collects plastic safely propels fish and other marine life under and beyond the system. The ambitious project aims to collect up to five tons of plastics every month.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”1349193″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]
After undergoing virtually successful trials of its advanced technologies in the Pacific Ocean, Ocean Cleanup, the non-profit organization is now venturing onward on its journey of relieving our oceans of plastic. The project is now officially headed towards the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest accumulation of plastic in the world.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
FROM THE OPTIMIST VIEW
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[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Discover how rebuilding the bottom of the ocean’s food chain can yield exceptional results in reestablishing its ecosystem.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”1349175″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Find out how ancient natural products such as silk can actually serve as an alternative to plastic.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Related content:
Being near a river, a lake or the ocean, makes you calmer and healthier
Kelp: the oceanic plant with skin, health, and thyroid benefits
Ocean holds the key to superior nutrition and sustainability[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]