Food for Thought (2/23/16)

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” Sylvia Earle

Yesterday I talked about plastic in the ocean and threw out some disturbing figures. Today I want to talk about an amazing young man who came up with an idea to get all of the plastic out of the oceans. The link I have attached is for a TedTalk given by Boyan Slat who was 18 at the time, in 2012. Boyan used his scuba diving experience with environmentalism and entrepeneurism to create a self-sustaining garbage collector in the ocean.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a gyre of plastic pollution in the North Pacific Ocean. National Geographic defines an ocean gyre as ” a large system of circular ocean currents formed by global wind patterns and forces created by Earth’s rotation. The movement of the world’s major ocean gyres helps drive the “ocean conveyor belt.” The ocean conveyor belt circulates ocean water around the entire planet.” Plastic pollution that ends up in the ocean circulates around in these ocean gyres. It is estimated that we produce around 300 million tons of plastic a year (Slat, 2012) and a large fraction of that plastic ends up in ocean gyres.

Boyan’s invention involves 24 triangular garbage collector with booms that span the entirety of the 6 ocean gyres. The idea is that the booms would prevent plastic from leaving the gyres and the currents the gyres create would push the pollution into the collector. Boyan estimates that his invention could clean up 55 shipping containers of plastic pollution in a single day! For more information on a very interesting idea I highly suggest you watch the TedTalk below. Although this is a fabulous idea it has not been put into practice yet, partially because of lack of funding and partially because of a lack of motivation.

Some food for thought…

How much plastic do you and your community contribute to the ever-growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch? How can you decrease that input?


“Encylopedic Entry: Ocean Gyre.” National Geographic Education. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

Leave a Reply