Today’s Solutions: December 05, 2021

Steve Green and his partner Monika Hertlová have started an ocean cleaning movement from their unique home base on the Helford River in Cornwall. The base is a 113-year-old, 55-ton former icebreaker; a boat specially designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters.

The pair launched Clean Ocean Sailing (COS) in 2017, an initiative that unites sailors, surfers, swimmers, and divers who love the ocean so that they can work collaboratively to clear out hard-to-reach marine plastic and trash.

So far, they have coordinated more than 300 volunteers to help clean the ocean. The couple’s icebreaker functions as a mobile basecamp from which teams can disembark in flotillas of smaller boats to access the hard-to-reach parts of Cornwall’s coastline and clear as much litter as possible.

COS also has a “rapid response unit” that allows people to “send [them] a photo or location,” Green explains. “We have about 20 volunteers who are set up and ready to pick up any ‘ghost gear,’ before it gets washed out to sea again on the next tide. We have found fish crates and fishing gear from South Africa, China, South and North America. It’s crazy.”

Since COS began, the group has extracted 250,000 individual pieces of plastic—that’s over 50 tons of waste. Approximately 85 percent of the litter is recycled and repurposed. A portion of what is collected gets melted down and made into smaller pellets at the Ocean Recovery Project in Exeter before being donated back to COS as recycled sea kayaks that can be used to find and collect more litter.

Locals who can’t come on COS expeditions themselves still contribute to the cause by providing the group with goods like groceries. “An awful lot of Cornish people aren’t particularly financially motivated. It’s almost an island attitude: we all lean on each other and look after each other. It is an ideal place for a testing ground for a circular economy,” says Green.

The concept of local volunteers sailing out to reach heavily polluted areas on the coast is spreading. In 2018, Surfers Against Sewage representatives on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, crowdfunded a boat and started embarking on litter collecting missions, too.

Green hopes that people who witness COS’s work will be motivated to join the effort. On top of collecting trash and cleaning the ocean, Green says that COS is about “other people seeing us doing that and perhaps they start to think about not dropping it in the first place—or even better, not buying it. That’s what’s really going to change the world.”

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas represent a successful conservation story

Following years of poaching and habitat destruction, the population of mountain gorillas in Rwanda once numbered under 260 individuals. Now, Rwandan gorillas represent a rare conservation success and a key economic engine for the East ... Read More

Germany plans to put 15 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2030

Making electric cars the dominant vehicles on the road is key to curbing planet-warming emissions and protecting the climate. In a bid to reach that goal, an increasing number of countries and cities across the ... Read More

Here are 5 Indigenous-led eco-charities you can support today

The climate crisis has caused us to reconsider our consumerist lifestyles and turn to Indigenous peoples to learn from their superior understanding of living in harmony with nature. Here is a list of five organizations ... Read More

Scientists discover a peculiar new planet

Deep into the Hercules constellation, 855 light-years away from Earth, lies a record breaking exoplanet. This newly discovered gas giant was named TOI-2109b, and the thing that makes it so special is the fact it ... Read More

High altitude experiment shows that snow monkeys are excellent at fishing

Snow monkeys, also known as the Japanese macaque, are native to many of the main islands of Japan. These fluffy creatures are the most northern-based non-human primate out there, meaning they have some cold temperatures ... Read More