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a SILVER LINING for our OCEANSAustin MpandawanaPlastics have revolutionised our way of life in unimaginable ways over the last one hundred years. It is impossible to imagine a world without them because of their versatility and low cost. At the same time, they have created a global problem which has been front of mind for many who are aware of the detrimental effects of their overwhelming prevalence in everyday life. Fortunately, some people and groups have gone the extra mile to alleviate the problem apart from merely expressing concern about the global plastic pollution crisis. One of these groups is a nonprofit foundation called the Ocean CleanUp, founded by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat when he was just 18 years old. They have a team of 120 engineers, researchers, scientists, computer modellers and other volunteers who work tirelessly to rid the oceans of floating man-made debris and waste. One of the significant challenges with plastic waste is its spread across vast expanses of water. To combat this, the team has developed a system that creates an artificial coastline to trap or concentrate the debris. The system comprises a long U-shaped barrier that guides the plastic into a retention zone.
There are four system designs which range from 800 to 2500 metres wide and between 3 and 4 metres deep. With the help of vessels, they trawl the ocean surface, creating currents which redirect the debris into an area small enough for collection. In the unlikely event of marine life getting caught up, teams are on hand to free them immediately. Impressive data collection takes place in the process, which helps to identify the source of these items, thereby creating opportunities for intervention at the start. To date, they have removed a whopping 1 579 327 kgs of trash. Photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen Another inspiring story comes from Manila in the Philippines. After realising how badly the plastics, clothing and other debris were choking the mangroves in and around Manila Bay, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) championed a major clean-up campaign. Since its inception in 2019, an impressive 18 million kgs have been trapped with the use of no less than 125 trash traps.
Their work has not only freed up the majestic mangroves but is also breathing new life into major rivers and tributaries of Manila Bay. A stand-out feature of this initiative is its inclusive nature. A concerted effort, which includes mascots, has been used to engage all age groups and create fun ways to spread the message throughout the community. The DENR has even developed a mobile game called Basura Buster used as an educational tool for children between ages 5 and 8. Photo by Leo Rivas Suffice it to say that there are people rising above the doom and gloom and silencing the humdrum about how the human race is irresponsible with the environment. It proves that despite rapid commercial expansionism without due regard to its adverse effects, there are people stepping up to the plate to make a positive difference.
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