Boyan Slat has dedicated his young life to cleaning up the world’s oceans. At only 27, the Netherlander is proving how to tackle a problem once thought impossible. Over the past 12 weeks, his Ocean Cleanup initiative hauled in more than 63,000 pounds of trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. They have a long way to go, but Slat said collecting trash wasn’t necessarily their target this time.
“The goal wasn’t to maximize catch, otherwise the operation would’ve looked a lot different,” Slat told USA TODAY. “The primary goal was to collect data, not plastic.”
Slat, who started Ocean Cleanup when he was 18, wanted to prove his half-mile-long trash collection system called “Jenny” could work. It traps manmade plastics at, or near, the surface of the water and reels them into a floating barge. Once the trash cans are full, workers can offload them and bring in empty ones. Workers on-land then sort the trash into recyclables. In one load, “Jenny” can net as much as 20,000 pounds before needing to empty its cargo, Yahoo said.
The goal of Ocean Cleanup is to rid the world’s water supplies of manmade plastic, which pollutes the water and kills marine life. Slat believes his nonprofit and fleets of “Jennys” can cut the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in half every five years. To put that in perspective, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a swirling collection of trash in the Pacific Ocean that’s twice the size of Texas. Slat hopes to remove 90 percent of the Patch by 2040.
He’s also trying to stop trash from reaching the oceans in the first place. Most trash that ends up there comes from a small percentage of rivers. Slat is working with countries to patrol those rivers and remove plastics early on.
YouTubers Work With Ocean Cleanup In Push to Clean Up Oceans
Two of YouTube’s biggest creators are teaming up again, this time to remove trash from the world’s oceans. Mr. Beast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, and former NASA engineer Mark Rober started an initiative to pull 30 million pounds of trash from the oceans called #TeamSeas. Dozens of other social media stars are helping raise $30 million to complete the task.
Mr. Beast and Rober teamed up before in an effort to plant 20 million trees in 2019. They surpassed their goal of $20 million to fund the project and planted more than 23 million trees since. #TeamTrees still collects donations and plants about 2,600 trees a day, Yahoo noted.
#TeamSeas is working with local groups to collect trash on beaches as well as funding trash-collecting barges from Ocean Cleanup called Interceptors.
#TeamSeas aims to raise $30 million by the end of the year. They’ve raised more than $6 million since announcing the project earlier this week.