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Cleaning Up Oceans

Updated on April 14, 2018

Cleaning Up the Ocean

The Pacific Ocean contains more than half the water on the planet. It also holds a lot of trash, much of it plastic. There are plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers,and many other kinds of packaging. Many of them were used only once before becoming trash and ending up in the ocean. Trillions of pieces of plastic are floating in the Pacific, and more go into its waters each year.

All this trash is an ugly mess. It’s an expensive problem, too. It costs billions of dollars each year to the fishing, shipping, and tourism industries. More than that, it’s dangerous. Every year, at least one million seabirds and many thousands of other animals die because of plastic pollution. People’s health is also affected because the plastic is full of toxic chemicals. Fish eat the plastic, and people eat the fish.

Some of the trash ends up on beaches. The United States spends about $500 million a year to clean up its West Coast beaches alone. Around the world, people are working to clean up the beaches in their own countries. Since 1986, hundreds of thousands of volunteers have joined the International Coastal Cleanup. On the day of the 2014 Cleanup, volunteers picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash.

Other people are trying to iigure out how to get the plastic out of the ocean. This is what Boyan Slat is working on. At age 16, he started studying the problem. He soon invented a system for catching plastic floating on or near the surface.

At 19, Boyan left his university in the Netherlands to start a foundation,The Ocean Cleanup. He now leads a large team of scientists and engineers. They are developing the technology to clean millions of pounds of plastic from the sea. Their goal is to clean up the largest “garbage patch” in the Pasific. They expect the ‘0 will take years. For this efforts, Boyan received the United Nations Hightest enviromental award. The UN named him Champion of the Earth.

Boyan and his team are in a hurry to get plastic out of the ocean. Right now, most of it is in large pieces. However, sunlight IS turning it into microplastics (very tiny pieces) Those are even more dangerous They're also harder to collect .
Boyan does not believe that the system he invented will end the problem of‘ ‘garbage patches” in the sea. He asks, “How are we now going to make sure no more plastic enters the oceans in the first place?” About eight million tons of plastic go into the sea every year.More and more plastic bags, bottles, and food wrappers. More and more plastic cups, forks, knives, and spoons. What can we do?

People fighting the problem say one answer is to change laws. They want to make the producers of plastic take more responsibility for it. They say another way is for peeple to make small changes in how they live. Some people are trying to make a difference by:

-taking their own bags to the store instead of accepting plastic bags,
- buying products that can be re-used,

-recycling plastic and buying recycled products, and

- volunteering to clean up their own part of the planet.


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