The Ocean CleanUp: An Initiative to Sustain Life Below Water

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With extensive advances in technology and time that bestow us with many advantages, we often fail to consider the side effects they entail. Degradation of the environment is one such ordeal that requires massive attention.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a soupy collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, which is one of the biggest threats to the environment today. This marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, mainly plastic.

Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a huge concern to life below water as the dangerous trash is being consumed by animals like sea turtles and seals, which poisons them. The microplastic debris not only directly kills sea life but, due to the absorption of PCBs and DDTs, also enters and poisons our own food supply. One can only imagine the aftermath.

Let’s get real! Something has to be done about it.

This issue was recently addressed by a 22-year-old Dutch innovator, Boyan Slat, whose initiative to clean up the entire Pacific Trash Vortex first became viral after his TEDx Talk titled “How the oceans can clean themselves” in 2012. The talk explained his entire plan which is now famously known as “The Ocean Cleanup,” and how he came up with this idea. Slat, in his talk, points out the fact that it is we who created this mess after inventing this material, and there’s no way we cannot clean it up together.

According to research, there is a whopping 7.25 million tons of extractable plastic in the ocean by 2020. Slat suggested a 65-mile floating V-shaped array that could collect plastic floating near the surface, which could then be funneled to a collection point. This model, when rolled out on full scale indicated a clean-up of 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years. As technology is the reason the trash exists, Slat says, “Why not also use the power of technology to take on these challenges and restore the natural balance?”

This was a brilliant invention and has helped spread great awareness about the issue. AIESEC supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘Life Below Water’ and aims to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution and trash. We can all take steps towards building a cleaner environment and a non-hazardous ocean; supporting it is a huge start.

All of us want a better world, and you can help enable that by taking action. You can take action by contributing to one of our SDG-based social projects initiated by AIESEC in alignment with various other organizations here: Life Below Water. All of us in our youth may not be able to invent inspiring ideas like Slat, but we sure can get inspired and do greater things in support. Every baby step can turn into a giant stride as long as you have the willpower to bring a change. In Slat’s own words, “Big problems require big solutions,” and this definitely is one big step towards achieving it.

What are you going to do about it?


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