July is Plastic Free month. Following hot on the heels of Oceans Day the amount of plastic waste in our environment is really troubling. You see plastic litter everywhere and know it is just one heavy rainfall away from entering our stormwater systems, waterways and oceans.
The ocean gyres where our massive ocean currents meet and circulate have become massive pools of swirling tiny particles of plastic as a result. Plastic that is being consumed and increasingly killing wildlife. There are approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic entering the worlds oceans each year and it's estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. It entangles wildlife and can be ingested by creatures from plankton to whales and everything in between.
The project that has filled me with much hope is the oceans cleanup initiative created by then 18-year-old Boyan Slat who combined environmentalism, entrepreneurial thinking and technology to tackle this global issue. After diving in Greece, and coming across more plastic bags than fish, he wondered; "why can't we clean this up?". Using those old maxims of not using the same thinking that created the problem to solve it - he has turned the problems into positives. Swirling currents became a mechanism for collecting the plastic, plastic attracting pollutants became a way of cleaning the oceans, collection nets which were killing sea life were replaced with booms that collected the plastic above while letting sea life escape below and the cost of setup became less of an issue as the plastic collected became a resource for sale. Fast forward a couple of years and Boyan is now has a team of people with $1.5million in government funding and has just launched the first prototype test.
With fingers crossed for the success of this project there is still more plastic blowing and being washed into our oceans every day. So here are some 10 options for a plastic free July:
Oceans Ted Talk
My name is Carolyn Cox, I'm the founder of Green Businesss HQ.
I help businesses develop sustainability strategies, action plans and provide sustainability advice for businesses, industry sectors, education providers, and communities.