How One Young Entrepreneur is Cleaning up our Oceans

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 12:10 PM

(Image Courtesy of Juniorinventors.com)

Boyan Slat, the founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, saw a problem that needed to be fixed. That's why, at age 17, he dropped out of his Aerospace Engineering program and decided to do something about the historic levels of plastic accumulating in our oceans.

Currently, over 5 trillion pieces of plastic litter the ocean -- most of which has accumulated in five ocean 'garbage patches' throughout the earth's seas. Normally, picking up five trillion pieces of plastic would take us eons to accomplish. However, the magic of Slat's company, the Ocean Cleanup, is that with their proprietary technology, the feat of cleaning up our oceans can be done in a fraction of that time -- just ten years, to be exact.

Here's how it works:

Slat's design works with the ocean's currents to funnel plastic into a particular area of the ocean. Once there, the plastic can then be picked up by a weekly or bi-weekly collection ship. Think of Slat's design as a sort of long funnel that works with nature instead of against it. The best part? Slat's company recycles the plastic that they find, ensuring both that it doesn't just get dumped elsewhere and that The Ocean Cleanup's project is a financially self-sustaining one. Ultimately, Slat says, this is why The Ocean Cleanup is able to have a project goal length of ten years instead of many, many more.

Why Does it Matter?

Beyond the enormous impact that ridding the ocean of five trillion pieces of plastic will have on sea creatures and the environment as a whole, Slat shows us through his work that no environmental issue is too big to tackle. His story is an inspiring one that reminds us all to do our part to make our world a more environmentally safe place to live.

For more, check our Blat's work at this link.

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