Leonardo DiCaprio! A-list actor, entertainer and lead-role in the cult classic Titanic. These are some of the names and titles we remember him by. However, he is also a prominent environmentalist who established the Leonardo DICAPRIO foundation in 1998 to help come up with and fight for ways to protect the environment. Since then, he has used his celebrity status and influence to motivate the people of today to take action into their own hands and contribute positively to the environment. Boyan Slat is one such person who just a mere high school student at the time, took initiative and created and came up with some new means to make the world more environmentally cleaner.
Boyan Slat’s Ocean Clean-Up Invention
During his high school tenure, Boyan Slat went on a school trip to Greece where he went diving. While underwater, he found himself surrounded by tons of plastic wastes. Understanding that this is an issue that needs an immediate solution, Slat took it upon himself to search for one. “That was the moment I realized it was a huge issue and that environmental issues are really the biggest problems my generation will face.”
To begin his journey, he started conducting research on some potential and safe solutions to clean up garbage laying in the oceans. His research came to a stalemate as many of the potential solutions that he was searching for consisted of using nets to pick up waste dispersed in the waters. The problem with using nets is that in doing so, you also end up picking up fish, turtles and other marine life animals.
Feeling unsatisfied with the results of his research, Boyan Slat decided to dedicate much of his time creating a solution of his own that will not only help get rid of garbage in the oceans but do so in a way that will not disrupt the inhabitants living in the waters.
After two extensive years of research and innovation, Slat has created his garbage-collecting booms and is ready to introduce it to the world.
The booms appear in the form of a massive float that acts as a coastline. It collects the surrounding wastes and gathers it to the center of the device. A boat would then collect the wastes, once every month. This equipment is attached with the use of anchors, which allows the booms to do its job slowly but functionally. The booms are programed in a way that the booms magnetic force pushes both the plastic garbage and the clean-up systems at the same time, making one dependable on the other. The best thing about Slat’s garbage cleaning booms is that it uses solar power energy and is modular and flexible in both shape and size.
The device has been planned to set sail east starting from San Francisco and pass both Hawaii and California as it heads towards the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
How Big is the Plastic Pollution Problem?
Plastic pollution have been a prominent issue for more than 50 years. They start of small, mainly as litter thrown into streets or the beach. However, due to factors like rain or over-watering flushes, waste gets collected which then gets stored back into the oceans. Once it enters the ocean, the garbage photodegrades (meaning it breaks down into tiny minerals, due to exposure to sunlight). These minerals can then be devoured by marine life, who mistake it for food. This in turn can prove to be fatal for the animals.
UC Santa Barbara National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) published a journal in February of 2015, which detailed a study regarding the amount of plastic wastes imputed into the oceans. The results showed that 8 million tons of plastic get tossed into our oceans every year. This is estimated to increase in 2025 by 100 bags of plastic per foot of the coastline in the world.
Types of waste most likely found in the ocean
- Plastic bottles
- Plastic bags
- Food wrappers
- Plastic utensils
- Beverage cans
- Paper bags
As a result, it is very important for people to be more conscious about how you dispose of garbage.
Take a page from Boyan Slat’s book and help figure out ways to improve our planet. As they say, actions speak louder than words, which is an ideal that Boyan Slat practiced and successfully accomplished.