It's no secret that here at Water Gallery we feel passionately about getting plastic out of our oceans (and discouraging single-use plastic in general)! We have committed to being an almost completely plastic-free company, from our manufacturing all the way to our shipping.
We care deeply about our natural environment and try to address environmental health with every professional and personal step we take. So when we read stories about a project that could actually HELP our oceans instead of all the gloom and doom we normally read about, we are inspired and hopeful.
We've actually written about this particular project before and we are excited to highlight the updates that have recently been released. After 22 years of tireless work, ocean barrier engineer Boyan Slat is putting his words into action. The Ocean Clean-up project is a floating barrier whose purpose is to capture some of the world's ocean's 9-million-tons-a-year plastic.
This V-shaped flexible barrier, which reaches down approximately 6 miles below the surface of the sea in the hope that it will collect trash but leave room for marine life to still swim safely underneath, is being tested for the first time in the North Sea.
The ocean refuse is intended to be collected within this barrier and then pulled up into a tower, where it will then be transported to land and subsequently recycled. The North Sea is typically more choppy and the waves are stronger than in the Pacific (the goal is to eventually address the monstrous issue of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with this barrier), so starting in the North Sea will be quite telling in terms of the structural integrity of the barrier.
The hope is to install a 62-mile full-scale barrier in the Pacific by 2020 and the goal is, in ten years, to get our world's oceans back to the level of purity that they were before the 1950s. A daunting and overwhelming goal, indeed...but if we don't have people who are willing to dream big, there will never be a solution.
The Ocean Clean-up project certainly has its critics. Many worry that a barrier like this will endanger marine animals and interfere with the world's most complex ecosystem. Many feel it's far less risky and more effective to address ocean plastics by doing things like beach clean-ups and minimizing waste in general.
But Slat says these are ideal "complementary activities" that don't address the already-disastrous mess of plastics that currently exists in our oceans. He rightfully says, "It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it." We are cautiously optimistic that Slat has created a real solution to what has become an immense environmental tragedy.
We do admit that this project seems dangerous-- how can this barrier reach down so low and potentially capture so much plastic without injuring or killing marine animals? But someone has to try SOMETHING to combat this massive problem. We will continue to follow this ground-breaking project. And of course, in the meantime, we will be part of the solution we want to see by avoiding single-use plastic at all costs.