The biggest momentous world game-changer since landing on the moon begins within the next year, and this one is much closer to home… our Ocean Cleanup! This brainchild of Dutch teenager, now 23 year old Boyan Slat, is the largest ever environmental rescue. Indeed, Boyan announced his highly optimistic project update this week leading up to Mothers Day. The Ocean Cleanup project is two years ahead of schedule. Happy Mothers Day Gaia! Especially relevant, 50% of the oceans plastic is expected to be removed within 5 years when the project is fully operational. Doesn’t that bring a lot of hope to our world?
Why He Did It
While diving in Greece, Boyan found more plastic than fish. He cared about the implications for the world and his generation’s future. Then, Boyan took the road less travelled. He seriously investigated the issue. Consequently, he did a high school project to study the problem and why it was so difficult to clean up. He kept thinking about and studying the issue, even as he went off to study aerospace engineering. To clean up with conventional methods of boats and nets would take thousands of years. He realized in high school, there had to be a be a better alternative.
“Please don’t tell me we can’t clean this mess up, together.”~ Bryan Slat
Imagine the obstacles this young man had to overcome to bring his epic planet-saving project on board! Boyan championed the ocean clean up despite hearing it was an impossible task. The consensus was to focus on stopping more plastic from entering the waterways. Forget trying to clean up the damage that had already been done. Rather than being deterred, Boyan kept his focus. “Most people involved in the topic were absolutely certain that cleanup would be impossible, even though nobody has ever seriously investigated” Boyan said in his TedXTalk at Delft. He was repeatedly told “It can’t be done”. However, Boyan perservered. He designed, created and obtained crowd funding for the ocean cleanup. The system pilot is scheduled by the end of 2017, with cleanup starting in 2018.
How He Did It
Boyan conducted a variety of studies and sought out world experts for help. He identified 50 questions to be answered for his idea to become a feasible project. He looked for solutions within the obstacles, themselves. Hence the ocean currents, initially considered an issue, became part of the answer. Currents help attract and concentrate the plastic. He discovered much of the plastic concentrates close to the surface within a couple of feet. Accordingly, the plastic catching equipment is an array of floating barriers with very long arms that run just a few feet deep. This collects the plastic and allows fish to readily swim underneath. The array directs and concentrates the plastic, which is extracted and shipped to land. To the end of making this a self-sustaining ocean cleanup, the plastic will be recycled into branded products. We will be able to support the ocean cleanup, while continuing to raise our awareness!
Gratitude for Boyan Slat
Consider the significance of inventing a way to clean up the enormously vast ocean, establishing a foundation and obtaining multimillion dollar funding starting out as a teenager. Isn’t it awe-inspiring? In gratitude, thank you Boyan for:
1. A clear environmental vision and leadership for the worlds’ oceans
2. Offering hope and inspiration to the world
3. Showing us the importance of supporting powerful visions of young people
4. Helping us understand the difference one person can make
5. Doing no harm to plankton, fish, the full food chain, including humans as part of the desired outcome
6. Communicating the project in your non-Native language
7. Asking great questions to ensure all angles are covered
8. Consulting world experts, professors and all of us
9. Using the plastic circulating the ocean for years or decades for the cover of your How the Oceans Clean Themselves study
10. Never giving up despite many other people’s proclamations of “it can’t be done”
For all of us, what Boyan accomplished to date is so profound and wonderful! Big progress solving a very serious world problem is closer to reality. This gives me faith that other workable solutions for world problems can be found. Do you have a big dream where answers possibly lie within the obstacles? How does Boyan’s work inspire you?