The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

Cleaning the Ocean

Everyone knows about the ocean problems and water pollution. There are different garbage patches in the ocean, the best known being the Great Pacific garbage patch, but did you know that there are about five? This is because of the gyres. A gyre is a large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movement. Gyres bring most of the garbage collected by the ocean into a big "pile" on the ocean.

The garbage patches are a threat to life under and above the sea. Millions of animals have been found dead due to plastic pollution. It has been estimated that at least one million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine animals die each year due to plastic pollution. Plastic absorbs toxic chemicals such as DDTs and PCBs. This results in increasing their concentration by a million. These persistent organic pollutants enter and bio-accumulate in the food chain, resulting in an even higher concentration of pollutants in fish. This also affects the human population when we eat fish or animals that eat marine animals, or animals that eat animals that eat marine animals, or so on. Health effects linked to these chemicals include cancer, malformation, and impaired reproduction.

Water, or plastic, pollution doesn't just affect life on Earth, it also affects the economy. Plastic pollution has caused at least thirteen billion U.S. dollars in damage every year to industries that include fishing, shipping, and tourism. The US West Coast states spend approximately $500 million every year to clean up their beaches, The cost of removing debris from beaches averages $1 500 per ton and can reach up to $25 000 per ton.

Being aware of the problem and the causes and results of the problem won't change anything to improve or solve it. There needs to be people wanting to take action to change the problem into a solution. That's where we come in. Some ways that the population can help is to simply volunteer and clean up the beaches or even the streets before the garbage gets washed away into a body of water, or just simply recycle and throw away stuff to where it belongs instead of throwing it anywhere. Those who use boats could use "Seabins" which "suck garbage right out of the ocean" (video below).

The Ocean Cleanup is developing the world's first feasible method to rid the oceans of plastic. Their goal is to extract, prevent, and intercept plastic pollution by initiating the largest cleanup in history. They asked themselves, "Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you?". The Ocean Cleanup envisions a network of floating barriers, which would allow the ocean currents to gather the plastic. Their technology enables the ocean to clean itself. A V-shaped array of floating barriers, attached to the seabed, will catch the plastic deposited there by the natural ocean currents. It's safe for sea life because the current will pass under the screens (underneath the booms), carrying away all sea life and preventing by-catch while the "lighter-than-water plastic" will collect in front of the barriers.

These are just the first few steps to change the ocean life and a path to a better and healthier future.

All of the information from this article came from The Ocean Cleanup website (link below) or from previously known information that stuck in my head.

For more information about The Ocean Cleanup, go to the following link:

For more information, better understanding, or pictures about the technology, surf through The Ocean Cleanup website, or go to the following link:

The Future

This Term's Writer

This Term's Writer