Boyan Slat, a 21 year old Dutch inventor, entrepreneur and aerospace engineering student who, at the age of 19, started the The Ocean Cleanup with the dream of removing all plastic waste from our oceans.
According to their research, every year we produce 300 million tons of plastic, a portion of which enters and accumulates in the oceans. A considerable portion of that gets infiltrated into the water stream and ends up in our oceans. Due to large offshore currents, plastic concentrates in vast areas called gyres, which basically result huge islands of floating micro plastics and garbage. And I say micro plastics because, due to the harsh conditions of the oceans and sun exposures, plastics are broken into smaller and smaller pieces that are not even that visible. So if you were imagining a giant island of waste floating around, you have the wrong image in your head. The fact that the plastic is broken down in such smaller pieces makes things even worse, in terms of cleaning it and also in terms of the ecosystem. Aside from marine animals dying from it because they confuse it with food and eat it, we also poison ourselves because some of those animals end up on our plates.
Boyan also did a Ted talk about The Ocean Cleanup in 2012 when he first started:
At the time there were a lot of skepticals, thinking that this might worsen the problem and damage maritime life. So, in order to tackle the opposing opinions, The Ocean Cleanup team produced a feasibility study (that you can find here) that demonstrates this project is indeed sustainable and it works. The evolution of the project is documented and captured in The Ocean Cleanup official website where they keep a blog to keep viewers informed. There is also a career section and donations can be made, for people who want to get involved.
Based on their research, Boyan and his team estimates that the oceans can be cleaned of plastics in approximately 5 year times in optimal conditions. Only 2 years after the Ted talk, The Ocean Cleanup published this video on youtube, signaling the feasibility study. This brings a lot of hope and reassurance for the followers but also for the skepticals.
Not many would have thought that the younger generations would give us lessons in environmental problems such as these, already cleaning up our mess that we and our predecessors left behind. This is what I call a Teen Titan, and it’s initiatives like these that build a bright future.
We need more Teen Titans and the wolrd needs to hear about projects such as these. If you know of other Teen Titans that strive to make the world better, please share them with us in the comments section below.
For more information please visit The Ocean Cleanup website.