Ocean clean up device: the perfect solution or a patch up?

While exploring the internet this morning I came across this article on National Geographic about a new machine that has been designed to clear up the Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s aim is to clean up 50% of the rubbish in the patch within the next 5 years. It is a new technology though, so no one is quite sure how well it actually will work, it was deployed into the Pacific about 4 months ago and has already had to be returned to shore for repairs.

Even if it did work effectively, I am not entirely convinced this is the right solution to our plastic problem, or at least, not the whole solution. This isn’t to say I don’t think the work and innovation that has been put into this project isn’t amazing, and it definitely could have the ability to massively help in reducing the plastic in our oceans. I just feel as though we need to tackle the problem at the root. This machine won’t stop any more plastic going into the ocean, it’ll just clear up the mess that’s we’re already making. But the plastic will have plenty of time to harm sea-life and ecosystems before the device gets to it. There are also some concerns, highlighted in the National Geographic article about the safety of the device in regards to sea-life and whether they could become entangled. But no one is really sure what will happen, as it such a new technology.

I’m no scientist, but I think the device is a good idea, I just think it’s a shame it’s had to come to this. Obviously, the Pacific Garbage Patch needs something of this scale. I just think we need to dramatically change our everyday lives so that we can reduce the amount of plastic that is ending up in the oceans in the first place. I know how difficult it is to go zero waste, but I believe we can all strive to reduce plastic in our everyday lives. This is something I seriously want to start focusing on in my daily life. I feel like we can all switch to reusable water bottles and reusable shopping bags, these are the most simple, yet effective steps to start off with.Click here to see my ultimate list of zero waste swaps!

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Photo from National Geographic ‘A sponge crab wears a clear sheet of plastic over its shell in Edithburgh, Australia. Historically, sponge crabs put sponges over their shells to camouflage themselves from predators. This man-made covering is not adequate protection.’

It starts to feel as though we’ve got to a point where only technology can save us from the impending doom of climate change and environmental destruction, but I just think this isn’t right. The problems more often than not have very simple solutions. The difficulty is that it requires a change of society’s mindset. We’ve been bought up in a throwaway society where disposal products are the norm and once we put the rubbish in the bin, we often don’t think about it ever again. But think about the amount of stuff you have thrown away in your entire lifetime. You probably can’t even comprehend it, I know I can’t. I believe that change has started to happen in recent years, plastic usage has crept into society’s conscience. But we’re still a long way from sorting the problem, I just want to encourage every individual to make the difference that they can, be it swapping out some of your products so they’re plastic free, participating in a beach clean up to stop more plastic getting into the ocean, or writing to your local MP to encourage them to expand the recycling options in your area. These technologies are great but lets also face the problem at it’s roots.

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