There are giant garbage patches floating in our oceans. They affect the quality of our ocean water and the wildlife that call the waters and shores home — and the garbage just keeps building. However, one young man has a plan to change all that. His ideas were rejected at first as implausible, but now that’s all changed…
What Are Garbage Patches?
The name implies that there are giant islands of garbage roaming our oceans, thick with plastic and debris — but that’s actually not the case. The garbage is extensive, and pushed into gathering points by currents and wind, where it’s also combined with other marine debris. A lot of the pollution comes in the form of microplastics, which have either been broken down from larger pieces of plastic, or are part of other products (like face creams or clothing). These microplastics, according to the U.S. Office of Response and Restoration, are akin to pepper in a bowl of soup: floating on the surface, spread out, and difficult to grab. Because of this, they end up in the food chain — and in our bodies.
Did you know that 8 million metric tons of garbage are dumped into our oceans every year? It causes $13 billion in damage to our ecosystems (and that’s a low estimate!). There are five enormous garbage patches in our oceans, and the largest is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (which accounts for 1/3 of all ocean pollution).
The garbage endangers the lives of sea animals like migrating birds, sea lions, fish and turtles. To see how devastating our trash can be to living creatures, take a look at Chris Jordan’s short film Midway: A Message From The Gyre. It gives a gut-wrenching glimpse at how deadly pollution is to the albatross.
Boyan Slat was 17 when he initially came up with the idea to clean up the ocean’s pollution. He was told it would never work — but he didn’t let that stop him. He was able to raise 100,000 through crowdfunding, and collected a group of volunteers to help him test a 40-meter barrier. And guess what? The Ocean Cleanup project worked!
After that, he and his team did more and more tests until they found an ideal model, culminating in a 2,000-meter barrier that will be launched in 2016. The floating barriers he created are specifically angled to collect garbage as it comes towards them via ocean currents. The barrier barely moves, and will capture trash from the top three meters of the water, so marine mammals won’t get trapped in the barriers. In addition, it’s powered by solar panels, and will be emptied of trash roughly every month and a half. This pilot project will go live in 2016 and be operational for a minimum of two years before arriving at Tsushima island, located between Japan and South Korea.
Next, Slat is planning an even large version to capture the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located between Hawaii and California — and you can help!
How can you help?
You can be part of this landmark project in August of 2015. The crew is traveling from Hawaii to California with up to 50 boats in parallel to measure their next great project, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — and they need your help to get boat owners and skippers involved. Not only will you be doing your part to keep our oceans healthy, you will be part of this historical project and be compensated for your efforts, whether you are actively involved or send them a referral. Learn more here!Whizzco