Everyone has seen the warnings and pleas for cutting up plastic waste to protect the wild animals; especially those in our oceans. It has become a sad thing, that in some beaches around the world, locals are disgusted by seeing more plastic trash than fish. Though many voices have been heard, and there are some attempting to keep the trash from the oceans, doing their part with recycling; it still isn’t enough.
With this catastrophic dilemma, a boy became obsessed over the problem at hand at the age of 16, and by 19 years of age he had a plan, that through charitable contributions, and thousands of hours produced by hundreds of volunteers, his invention could be the solution. His name, Boyan Slat, and with his ingenuity and insight, we have hope of saving the oceans.
Production of plastic globally is over 288 million tons per year and 10% of that ends up in the ocean. Near 80% of that plastic floating in the ocean, is actually drawn in through land based sources. Plastic in the sea is carried through currents in five revolving gyres, which gathers the plastic into the ocean. The more common place being the massive Pacific Garbage Patch, located halfway between California and Hawaii. For a general idea how large the plastic is spread and concentrated; it is twice the size of Texas. Making cleanup a challenge, the trash is continually being rotated, as opposed to staying in one place.
Slat determined that the trash cannot be accumulated and removed by ship. Between cost, energy, the thousand years it would take and of course the fish casualties that would get ensnared in the nets, removing trash by ship would be unacceptable. Being that Slat has always been a problem solver, enjoying finding solutions to puzzles, he was inspired and had an epiphany. Instead of chasing the garbage throughout the current, he purposes to harness the current, and wait for the plastic to be drawn into the current to capture the plastic waste. After over year of chasing down sponsorships and aid, he finally was successful in collecting a decent start up fund, and had volunteers pouring in. With experts wanting to lend a hand, there are also some claiming that the proposal is ridiculous, and can’t be done. Slat now has even more fuel, to not only fix the gut wrenching problem, but also prove the doubters wrong.
Prototypes are being engineered, and mighty minds are coming together to see Slats dream come to fruition. But the big concern is that the trash isn’t merely just floating on the surface, but is compacted into columns. The wildlife is greatly impacted. The plastic is tangling onto their bodies, making survival difficult. And with plastic, as it breaks down, chemicals are being released, that are also influencing the wildlife negatively. With many ideas coming into play, not only does Slat and the scientific experts on his side wanting to clean up the ocean, they are also looking into spin-offs of his technology to catch much of the problem in the feeding rivers.
While these folks are working hard on cleaning up the ocean, we can all do our part. Recycling, depositing trash appropriately and avoid using plastic products that are not necessary.