01-straw-wars.ngsversion.1491971403547.adapt.1900.1                                                        Trash from the shore lines eventually make it into the ocean if no one picks them up.

Marine pollution has been considered a serious problem since the late 1900s when fish populations started to reduce due to the pollution. Trash in the ocean is not only affecting fish; it has also posed a risk to coral reefs which are actually living animals who are already 19% extinct. Humans are the only mammals who are capable of acknowledging they are doing wrong, through instinct but can choose to do right tomorrow. Therefore, even though humans are responsible for endangering animals, we are now encouraging engineers and cleanup crews to help the environment. Ocean technologies have been a work in process for a specific purpose: to clean pollution and decrease the risk of wildlife endangerment. These technologies need to be implemented and utilized to reduce marine pollution.

Through the past decade, computerized devices like cell phones and laptops have been getting smaller, more powerful and more portable. But technology for the ocean is still a work in progress. Boyan Slat is the founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup foundation. This foundations goal is to clean up the worlds oceans by ridding them of plastics and other waste. They plan on doing this by creating floating barriers on a coastline to gather the plastic, and take it out. The barrier consists of a 600 meter long floater and a three meter deep skirt attached underneath. The floater supplies buoyancy to the barrier and avoids plastic from floating over it while the skirt prevents smaller particles from escaping underneath and allowing fish to still pass under it. The floating barrier uses the wind and waves from the ocean to propel itself, gathering plastic and other de as it goes. The system moves quicker than the trash that way the plastic is captured. The skirt extends deeper in the middle of the system than on the outer edges allowing it to turn the barrier into a u-shape when the current applies force. From there the trash is gathered like a funnel at the center of the barrier. Ocean_Cleanup_Floating_Boom_Boyan_Slat

The barrier and the plastic are both free floating along the ocean therefore the barrier is more likely to travel in the direction of high amounts of trash, gathering the pollution along its way. This system has solar power lights, anti collision systems, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, for the engineers and scientists to be allowed to communicate with the system in any part of the ocean. It also gathers performance data. Periodically, a support ship comes by to take out the gathered plastic like a garbage truck of the ocean. The plastic is transported after to land and is recycled; it is also turned into glass bracelets, necklaces, etc. Once the barrier is released into the ocean in 29 days from now (August 10, 2018), this system  is expected to clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every 5 years.

Technology is one of the many devices people are trying to use in order to clean up the ocean.Aside from technology, there have been over 17 different states in the U.S. who have participated in a Zero Waste Week campaign. This campaign encourages students to reduce their amounts of plastic usage and littering. They are encouraged to go out as classrooms and pick up trash that might one day find its way into the ocean; afterwards, the students dispose of the trash properly. During this campaign the schools adopt a new slogan “go green, think blue” and embraced the five R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. Teachers and student reduced bottled waters and tried replacing them with reusable containers. The students even made a competition out of the campaign and battled against other classes to see who could bring in the most reusable equipment and the winners would get reusable gifts. As appreciated as these schools and foundations are, the only way humans as a whole can make a drastic difference for the aquatic mammals is if we all made changes to our daily uses for plastic. Yes, plastic does have a valuable temporary use for humans. But once the plastic is no longer worthy to someone then they will get thrown out.

Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose. But plastic is actually more dangerous for the ocean when they become very small pieces known as micro-plastics; fish confuse it with food and it kills them slowly. There are plenty of substitutions to plastic: toothbrushes are now made with plant based bamboo products, there is biodegradable floss, grocery plastic bags can be replaced with paper or fabric material, and straws can now be substituted with either metal or glass. Plastic straws end up in the ocean primarily through human mistakes and some intentional mistakes. They are left on beaches in coastal communities, littered, or blown out of trash cans because of how small and light straws are. Once the straws enter the ocean, their main victims are seabirds are turtles. People have been gathering cleanup crews along the side of the ocean making it their mission to not leave any trash behind, 4 ocean is an organization that gathers groups of people all over the world to clean the oceans. They also have boats and throw fishing nets into the ocean to gather pollution instead of fish. Every pound of trash that gets pulled out of the ocean is turned into glass bracelets with a logo that says “1 pound”.

Cleaning up the ocean with technologies such as floating barriers were impossible ideas over five years ago. Now it is a work in progress that might save endangered species of fish. California is the only state that is passing bills to aim the reduction of plastic straws and bottles decreasing the amounts of litter; other states in the U.S. are trying to do the same. Countries all over the world such as European countries, like Denmark, France, Belgium, Italy and Portugal, have already been trying to “kick the plastic addiction” by recycling and using biodegradable or reusable products to save the ocean.


Work Cited

-This article was written in 1987, therefore polluting the ocean was already a serious topic 31 years ago. Laist covers the amounts of plastics and other synthetic materials that were being polluted into the ocean. Plastic was becoming more available to the people and we were getting creative in using it many different ways. But did we actually consider how quick it would degrade, where the wastes would go, and who it would affect in the long run? Plastic wastes are now possessing danger to “marine mammals, seabirds, turtles, fish, and crustaceans” because they confuse plastic with foods and it damages their organs or causes them to feel ill and starve to death. Animals constantly get caught in fishing nets and drown or when they come in contact with anything that does not belong in the ocean, they can cut themselves or swim directly into objects causing injuries.

  • McCoy, Terrence. “Can the ‘Largest Cleanup in History’ Save the Ocean?” Washington Post – Blogs, 01 Feb, 2016, SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.

-Boyan Slat is the founder of the Ocean Cleanup organization. He proposed building a large and angled barrier and anchoring it to the ocean floor in the areas of densest garbage pile. Then “the ocean’s currents would take it from there, passively pushing the plastic into a collection zone”. It was predicted that this cleanup would take thousands of years but Slat presented a more complex idea to a project’s office with his creation that would only take five years. It took him plenty of attempts to model and put to use his creations and he failed many times, this helped him understand how inventions work. By 2020 Boot and his team were going to be ready to launch this experiment into a successful attempt but in June 2017, there was an updated report his creation will be launching this year in 2018.

  • Nally, Alyssa. “Students Take a Stand Against Marine Plastic Pollution by Adopting..” NOAA News, 01 Jul, 2018, SIRS Government Reporter, https://sks.sirs.com.

-Students from a  union school in California have began a campaign called “Zero Waste Week” in which they promote reusable water containers instead of using plastic bottles and anything that can substitute styrofoam or any kind of plastic. Classrooms were encouraged to compete against other classrooms and see who could bring in their own reusable bottles or other objects and the class winners would receive reusable gifts. They came up with a slogan: “go green, think blue”, and they encouraged more schools to embrace their campaign. On friday’s, the students would go out and collect as much trash as they possibly could and dispose of it properly to make sure none of it would end up in the ocean. Their efforts are making a difference and they definitely reached out to Watsonville School of Arts in California. Watsonville students are turning trash into art by creating reusable cloth napkins during Zero Waste Week.

  • Paulson, Amanda. “Rethinking Disposable Straws–for the Sake of the Oceans.” Christian Science Monitor, 07 Jun, 2018, SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.

-Even though our generation is becoming aware of the danger plastics are causing the ocean, it is going to take more effort from every individual to actually make a difference. There are an estimated eight million tons of trash in the ocean each year which is equivalent to one truck loaded with trash being dumped into the ocean each minute. Yes, plastic does have a valuable meaning on land because we so often use it but we also get rid of it fast. California is the only state in the United States to try and eliminate plastic. We rid ourselves from most plastic bags and California was just introduced to a  Bill that would ban plastic straws. There are substitutions from the plastic material such as bamboo, metal, or glass straws.

  • Schreuer, Milan. “E.U. Proposes Plastics Ban to Cut Down Sea Pollution.” New York Times, 29 May, 2018, pp. A. 6. SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.

-the ten plastic items most commonly found on beaches include straws, cotton swabs, disposable cutlery, and fishing gear. European countries have already taken steps to reduce more plastic use and many of the population show a major interest in helping the ocean. European countries are waiting for the approval by the unions 28 member states to reduce the top ten plastics.