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A 20 year old's plan to clean up the world's ocean


Sometimes the solutions to a problem are found in the most unlikely minds.

Pollution is an inevitable consequence of the way in which we live. Almost all of our needs are satisfied through an industrial process, and which generates waste that is often useless and accumulates on the planet’s surface, in many cases altering the ecosystem and the natural life of the area in which the waste ends up.

And, unfortunately, it is into the oceans where diverse types of pollution are channeled, especially as a result of our dependency on plastic in its many forms: bags, bottles, rings for six-packs and other detritus. According to the 5 Gyres organization, in 2014, 269,000 tons of plastic waste was discarded in the planet’s seas, although other studies raise that figure to 8 million tons.

Resolving this situation is not easy, but it is perhaps not such a titanic one as we might imagine. At least that is what a 20-year-old called Boyan Slat thinks, a Dutch aerospace engineering student who has founded The Ocean Cleanup, an NGO that began as a crowd funding initiative that collected $2 million.

The young man’s idea basically involves placing floating barrels in areas of the ocean where currents provoke a natural tide. The V-shaped rods are anchored to floating barriers allowing the garbage to collect and preventing animals from becoming trapped (as occurs with nets). The Ocean Cleanup’s plan will begin to function next year off the Japanese island of Tsushima, near South Korea.

Irrespective of the results, the effort by the organization, and especially by its young founder, shows that sometimes solutions come from the most unexpected people, and especially for urgent problems such as marine pollution.

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