By Sofia Mavrou,
Oceans, without a single exception, are full of garbage. And all of the trash, guaranteed, is human garbage. It is impossible for one person to begrime an ocean solo. Even, if an unreasonable individual littered the water every day, the result would be manageable. Thus, humanity can share the prize of collaboration when it comes to dirt. Thankfully, God created a couple of gifted people so as to correct others’ wrong moves. So, when these gifted people encounter each other marvels can occur.
One marvel is “The Ocean CleanUp” project. Founded in 2013, “The Ocean CleanUp” is a non-profit foundation, based in the Netherlands and run by a 28-year-old man named Boyan Slat. The aim of this organization is to clean the oceans of plastic products and waste products, at large. As far as the means to attain such challenges are concerned, they develop and implement new technologies to cleanse the world’s oceans effectively. Their motto is “BIG PROBLEMS REQUIRE BIG SOLUTIONS”. And they are serious when they say “BIG”.
The 16-year-old Boyan Slat, while scuba-diving in Greece, beheld more plastic bags than fish. Once that view entered his mind, it never left. As he narrates, he posed the most straightforward question of all; “Why can we not just clean this up?”. After that, he started doing research, gave TEDx talks, dropped out of school, and devoted himself to “The Ocean CleanUp”. In order to solve the pollution problem, he thought not only do we need to prevent more plastic from flowing into the ocean, but also clean up what has already been thrown there. To clean an area of such size, a strategic and energy-efficient solution is required.
The team of “The Ocean CleanUp” created artificial coastlines to round up plastic rubbish. The system is comprised of a long U-shaped barrier that guides the plastic into a retention zone at its far end. In other words, a floating device was created to clean up plastic from the ocean. On top of that, it is completely open at the bottom allowing fish to escape.
The garbage is collected for a couple of months and then it is transformed to another area, where the decluttering takes place; decluttering of what can be recycled and what it cannot. That new technology has undergone 3 stages called System 01 (June 2019), System 02 (July 2021), and System 03 (under progress). Every update of the system is followed by a more efficient model and a bigger net. All nets have been deployed in “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” – a gathering of trash located between Hawaii and California; an area about three times the size of France. “The Ocean CleanUp” team estimates that nearly 10 full-size systems will be needed to clean up the Great Pacific Ocean. System 002 removed more than 100,000 kilograms of plastic till July 2022. The research team hopes that approximately 90% of plastic products will be recollected from the Pacific Ocean by 2040, given the present data.
But why should we clean the ocean? Some may argue that it is a waste of time since in a matter of weeks the condition will be once again severe. Yet, I have to pose a more complex question; why should we not clean the ocean? Everybody wants the ocean to be cleaned. However, not many participated in the cleansing project. Many praise enterprises such as Slat’s, but few imitate him. A lot of people discuss climate change, while almost half of them (re)act. So, if you are seeking a reason to restore the planet, think of the sacrifices it has made for you. It is not necessary to build up a non-profit organization that cleans up the Pacific Ocean or prepares for a TEDx talk. Next time, just throw your litter into the bin: that simple.
- The Ocean CleanUp. theoceancleanup.com. Available here