What Is Being Done to Stop Ocean Pollution: 4 Environmental Initiatives In 2020

by Megan Kioulafofski
plastic pollution

Why The World Needs More Environmental Initiatives

Wondering why the world needs more innovative ways and initiatives to help solve our complex environmental problems?

It’s fairly well-known that our beautiful ocean is in the middle of an unfortunate trash crisis. 

As Ocean Conservancy says, there’s an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastics in our oceans alone. To make a better idea, that would be the equivalent of dumping a plastic-filled New York City garbage truck into the ocean every minute! 

Plastic itself is a major environmental issue since we use so much of it. Most of it never biodegrades, harming both oceans and marine life

On the bright side, the good news is that many organizations have started implementing some of the best practices to cut down on their contributions to ocean waste. Other than that, more and more initiatives are being taken worldwide to help protect the environment.  

Let’s take a look at some of the coolest environmental initiatives that are happening right now, and learn what is being done to stop ocean pollution and how you can help.

The 5 Gyres Institute And Their Great Environmental Initiatives

If you’re wondering what is being done to stop ocean pollution, some of the greatest environmental initiatives happening right now come from the 5 Gyres Institute.

The 5 Gyres Institute is a nonprofit organization that aims to fight plastic pollution and climate change through science, education and adventure. In their efforts to help clean the oceans, they’ve explored 50,000 miles of ocean across their 17 annual expeditions. During that time, they’ve also completed a lot of research on the plastic found in the world’s oceans.

In 2013, they concluded a two-year research on the plastic pollution from the Great Lakes. 

Together with other non profit organizations, they pushed for the Microbead-Free Waters Act, among many more great wins for the oceans.

TrashBlitz is a collaboration project between 5 Gyres and a number of other non-government organizations, that tries to keep the environment clean by allowing normal people like me and you to have a voice in the fight against ocean waste.

TrashBlitz mobile app facilitates its users to accurately track the amount, material and brand of trash we collect. The goal of this environmental initiative was to build partnerships and to create an open-source data set to validate everyone’s efforts towards a world free of plastic pollution.

girl taking the environmental initiative of cleaning plastic on beach

ClearWater Mills and Mr. Trash Wheel

Another amazing environmental initiative you should know about is Mr. Trash Wheel.

Mr. Trash Wheel is a trash interceptor that runs on a combination of hydro and solar energy. These wheels are placed at the end of streams, rivers and other outlets, for the bodies of water to collect the waste floating towards them. 

Mr. Trash Wheel once collected 38,000 pounds of trash in a single day!

After the trash is funneled into the interceptor’s “mouth,”  the debris gets lifted out of the water and into the conveyor’s belt. The conveyor belt is strong enough to lift big pieces of trash, like mattresses or tires. Next, the trash is carried out to a dumpster, where it gets towed away. Mr. Trash Wheel’s collected trash is incinerated to create electricity. 

The original Mr. Trash Wheel is located on the Jones Falls stream in Baltimore, Maryland.  The rest of  “his family” can be also found in Baltimore and includes Professor Trash Wheel in Harris Creek and Captain Trash Wheel in Masonville Cove.

The Rash’Rs’ Reusable Face Masks

The current state of the world has made face masks a common necessity for everyone.

Unfortunately, most of the single-use face masks and other pandemic plastic products land in the oceans, adding more trash to our seas. To combat this big environmental problem, PADI and Rash’R have partnered in an environmental initiative to make face masks out of plastic water bottles

At the time of their CNN interview, PADI’s  vice president of consumer marketing, Lisa Nicklin, said that the masks helped remove and reuse 1,267 pounds of ocean waste. 

It’s worth knowing that PADI does not make any profit out of the masks they sell. The masks’ current price covers just the cost it takes to make them.

girl at the market taking part in an environmental initiative

The Ocean Cleanup and System 001

If we managed to catch your curiosity on what is being done to stop ocean pollution, let us introduce you now to one of the biggest and most successful environmental initiatives so far. One we are particularly keen on, as we donate a portion of SOL + SPIRIT profits to this environmental initiative.

Dutch inventor Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup when he was 18. His goal was to develop an advanced technology that could clean up the tons of plastic found  in the oceans. 

System 001 (and its variations) was one of the world’s first cleanup systems tested and used in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s largest concentration of ocean plastics.

System 001 has a U-shaped cleanup system designed to passively collect trash from the water. It moves together with the oceans’ currents and relies on natural forces to survive in the environment. 

All of this combined helps System 001 concentrate the plastic so that it can eventually be extracted from the oceans and seas. 

Their prediction is that their full-scale system could end up cleaning half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.

Talk about great news!

The Seabin Project and Seabin V5

The last environmental initiative we present to you today, is the Seabin Project.

Founded by two Australians, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, the Seabin Project came to life in 2013. 

The company creates seabins to combat trash. These seabins are used in calm bodies of water like in a port or marina. The way they work is by skimming the surface of the water  and intercepting floating debris, macro and micro plastics, and micro fibres. 

This amazing invention can also absorb petroleum-based surface oils and detergents. However, the company’s ultimate goal is to eventually exist in a world where seabins are not needed anymore.

To work towards this, the two businessmen have also started the Seabin Foundation with the goal of using education, science, research and community activation, to achieve cleaner oceans. Science, research, data collection and STEM learning programs are just  a few of the environmental initiatives that the Seabin Foundation promotes.

Mr. Trash Wheel, System 001, Seabin V5 are an important part of what is being done to stop ocean pollution and illustrate some of the amazing ways inventors are cleaning up the ocean

However, we don’t need to be clever inventors or savvy scientists to make a difference for our oceans!  A lot of the work starts at home.

Individual Environmental Initiatives We Can All Take To Help Stop Ocean Pollution

Even if we’re physically living far away from the oceans or seas, many of the things we do can still impact them. 

According to the Ocean Health Index, about 80 percent of marine debris comes from sources found on land. This is the result of all our excess trash and waste making its way from neighborhoods, and into the oceans.

Single-use plastic items like bags, cutlery, packaging and beauty products are small everyday products we use that can make a bigger impact than we might think. 

Luckily, there are a few things we can all do at home to reduce our carbon footprint and cut down on the contribution we each bring to ocean waste.

In the kitchen, we can switch to cloth napkins and microfiber dish rags and when we go shopping, we can opt for reusable shopping bags over plastic ones. 

We can even start using organic pet accessories and eco-friendly water bowls for our furry friends

Making these simple swaps doesn’t only make it cleaner and safer for us and our loved ones, but also for the oceans.

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