A garbage patch the size of Texas? How incredibly depressing. But if it’s that big, what’s the point of even thinking about it? It’s not like any of us ordinary citizens can actually make a dent in cleaning it up.
In 2010, one guy decided he could. His name was Boyan Slat.
He wasn’t a billionaire.
Or a media mogul.
Or even a college graduate.
In fact, he was just an ordinary 16-year-old Dutch teenager who went SCUBA diving on vacation in Greece and saw more plastic bags than fish. That really bothered him.
So he decided that his next high school science project was going to be to clean up the world’s oceans.
But first, he had to figure out how much trash was out there. And whether it was on the surface or floating down below.
So Boyan and a friend built a homemade trawl. On their next holiday, they went back to Greece to do a survey. Since they had no boat, they pulled the trawl behind a surfboard.
Everyone (except Boyan) got seasick.
The trawl broke.
They didn’t quit.
Somewhere along the way, Boyan had a brilliant idea…
Don’t send boats out to scoop up the garbage. Use the ocean currents to bring the garbage to you.
Slat’s idea reverses current marine cleanup methods: Instead of sending ships out to chase floating garbage, position a stationary, floating, V-shaped buffer in ocean currents so that water moves through it, funneling plastic debris into a container for capture and removal while allowing animals to swim past the net-free device. LET THE OCEAN CLEAN ITSELF.
2012. Boyan is now 18. He gives a Tedx talk, which goes viral.
Boyan starts university but can’t get the Great Pacific Garbage Patch out of his mind.
In 2013 he drops out of school to found an organization called Ocean Cleanup. His entire budget is 200 Euros.
One year & 100 scientists and engineers later, they conclude that Boyan’s method could in fact clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years’ time.
Boyan’s nonprofit, Ocean Cleanup, initiates a Crowdfunding campaign and raises $2.2 million for a pilot study/cleanup project. It’s the most successful Crowdfunding campaign to date.
The first 2000 meter test system will be deployed in Japan in 2016.