The Ocean Cleanup
(Published Originally 04.23.17 on ARTISCEND.COM)
Written By J. Randolph
In 2013, 17 year old Netherlands native–Boyan Slat founded The Ocean CleanUp. Slat actually left his Aerospace engineering study in February of 2013 to create the company. At an age where many are focused on self-identity and self improvement, Slat sacrificed security to pursue his passion and an idea that he could make the world better.
The mission was simple; clean up the world’s oceans by removing the plastic debris that damage underwater ecosystems. Of course, the problem was much easier to outline than the solution. Slat recruited a team of volunteers consisting of scientists and engineers to study the ‘feasibility’ of the project. In one year, they accumulated enough data and information to publish a study more than 500 pages long. They now had confirmation and direction.
Through testing, arduous labor and research, The Ocean CleanUp devised a way to use the ocean’s natural tides and currents to concentrate large plastics in a particular area where they can be extracted, sorted, refined, and ultimately recycled (thus rendering the oceans cleaner and ultimately giving plastic that ends up dumped in the ocean a second chance at utility).
After the study, Slat and his team shared their idea with the world. In 100 days, the team raised more than $2.1 million USD, making The Ocean CleanUp project one of the most successful nonprofit crowd-funding events in history. The team wasted no time jumping into action. They launched expeditions to further their studies; then they began model scale testing and now they are preparing for the 1st operational pilot to be deployed in the pacific in late 2017.
“Human history is basically a list of things that couldn’t be done and then were done”, said Slat while updating his team on the company progress back in 2014. Now just three years removed from that speech, he is on the brink of achieving his goal of forever changing the course of history.
The United Nations honored Slat with the ‘Champion of Earth” award in late 2014. Often young people are told to “wait their turn” but Slat and his amazing team are proving that the youth right now and today have as much capacity for social change as any of us.