High school science project to become the biggest ocean clean up ever.
When Boyan Slat, a young man from the Netherlands was 16 years old he started a science project in his school to help the oceans clean themselves. After he went on vacation to Greece and saw more plastic than fish swimming in the water he knew he had to do something.
At first many people doubted his ideas and didn’t think the way he would handle the problem would have any impact. But he insisted on making his dreams of changing the world come true and finally experts said that his way has a fair chance of working. They said that his Ocean Clean Up Project might take the garbage out of the ocean in only a few instead of thousands of years.
Boyan’s technology will use the ocean currents to trap pieces of plastic in large barriers and then extract them from the water. Easier said than done, considering the huge areas of floating plastic like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. However Boyan and his team were able to get enough money donations that allowed them to start building the nets and testing them in the North Sea. The plan is that the project will be started in 2020 in the Pacific Ocean.
Polluting the oceans
Think about a big dump truck full of garbage. Now imagine that all of that rubbish is poured into the ocean. Currently humans litter that same amount of plastic waste every minute into the water.
Not only do the huge piles of plastic endanger marine life — when the animals swallow little pieces or get trapped by large ones and die. The plastic eventually is fragmented into tiny poisonous particles called microplastics that get swallowed by fish and end up in the food chain that includes us humans.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
There are five huge areas in the oceans that trap plastic in their currents. They are called gyres. One of these gyres is in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California. It is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It holds about 1/3 of all floating garbage and has a size bigger than the state of Texas.
What you can do
Avoid using plastic whenever you can! Bring your own water bottles or ask the deli to wrap your sandwich in paper instead of putting it in a plastic container. Think twice if you really need to buy another plastic toy or gadget!
You can follow Boyan’s project on the website TheOceanCleanUp.com.
Photos by “The Ocean Cleanup”, artist impressions by ‘Erwin Zwart/The Ocean Cleanup’.