Can this massive invention save our oceans?

How can we solve the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans? Watch this video to find out how a giant ocean 'snake' could help!

Instructions

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. Remember you can read the transcript at any time.

Transcript

If you close your eyes and squint a bit, you could pretend this 600-metre-long tube is some kind of giant ocean snake. It's not, though. It's a device with a very special mission – to catch the ocean's rubbish, or at least some of it.

It's being towed out to a part of the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Garbage Patch. The water currents here happen to make lots of plastic rubbish drift together, and I mean lots – an area almost the size of Queensland.

Until now, it's been too difficult, too big, and too expensive to do much about it. That was until this guy came along, Boyan Slat. This snake thing was his idea, and it all started when he was still at school.

'I realised, back in high school, there might be an alternative.'

For a school project, he designed a system of floating barriers that would be up to 100 kilometres long. They'd sit in the path of ocean currents, in a V-shape, to capture and funnel any floating plastic. Then these giant towers would suck it all up.

'Instead of going after the plastics, you could simply wait for the plastic to come to you.'

We've spent a lot of time telling you about plastic pollution on BTN.

'Yup, a recent study found that Aussies discard more than 9 billion pieces of plastic every year. Unlike paper or cardboard, plastic takes a really, really long time to break down.'

'I've come to realise that our precious marine life are getting killed by the so-called innocent plastic bag.'

But finding solutions hasn't been easy, and with so much plastic already in our oceans killing our marine life, Boyan and his organisation, Ocean Cleanup, are hopeful they can tackle the problem, one giant snake at a time.

'I mean, this is pretty incredible. I mean, something that we've been working towards for five years. And just having it seen from the early conceptual sketches to, you know, now the first unit actually going through the Golden Gate and heading to the Garbage Patch is pretty incredible.'

It's aiming to trap some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling around here, while still letting marine life safely swim beneath it. It's fitted with solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, and the design will make it easy for boats to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land where it will be recycled.

Boyan is now 24, and despite the years of work that have gone into this, he says the system will still get some more tweaks in the coming months.

The hope is to take it even further, by letting 60 of these giant snakes loose on the Pacific Ocean by 2020.

That's a lot of hungry snakes who surely won't be going hungry. But hopefully they do, at some point.

© ABC

Discussion

What can we do in our everyday lives to stop plastic pollution?

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Comments

Submitted by Arturo on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:13

We can collect the garbage that is on the street, we can throw our garbage in the bin, use biodegradable products to avoid contamination, not use plastic bags because they take at least more than a year to disintegrate, use cutlery and dishes that can reuse, and continue with the help of marine animals that are trapped by pollution, among other things.

Submitted by a01285191 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:12

We can start using other things as a substitute of plastic like instead of drinking water from plastic water bottles we can use thermos, we can start using bags made out of fabric instead of the ones made with plastic etc..

Submitted by leml2004 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 22:22

We can reuse bottles of water to drink many times on it instead of throwing it. Also we need to avoid the plastic burning to reduce the air pollution. We can recycle the pet bottles and the cans because these materials are collected by companies that recycle and realize new objects.

Submitted by juhalee04 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 22:15

I can recycle the plastic water bottles, also i will collect the caps of water bottle or juice. I can join the campaign of save the world from plastic pollution, and i could post some information in my SNS or blog that about plastic pollution.

Submitted by mbaca00 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 22:15

Pollution is an issue that is very controversial because of all the negative impacts it has on "EVERTHING" it is very sad that people even though they know it is harmful for the environment to do certain things they don't care and commit the action. There are a lot of ways in order to limit of levels of pollution but were aren't saved by this measures.

Submitted by hectorjtt on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 21:57

In the actually, the plastic pollution have increase a lot and many of the people don't care about it. The best way to stop plastics pollution is see what we are doing wrong and how it affects the planet. We do many things that we thing that they do not affect like use bags or straws, but it affect a lot.

Submitted by manacontam on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 21:56

To reduce plastic pollution, we should replace some things we have at home, for example, instead of using plastic bottles we can change it to a bottle that we could fill whenever we want, another example is to replace plastic bags and carry cloth bags for the supermarket.

Submitted by kazzz05 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 21:55

I think we should firstly start with buying less things, seeing just what me really need and as well stop buying thing that might be damanging for the environment and bodies. As well we should start recycling.

Submitted by LuisEduardoSalazar on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 21:51

We can start with initiatives in which people recycle more than they already do, also the one of the bests options could be reducing massively the production of plastics and replace them with natural things that doesn't contaminate with toxins the planet, this because in base of studios plastics are one of the most elements that contaminates the planet because of the toxins that it contain and its massive production.

Submitted by A01285765 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 21:43

There are a lot of ways to stop pollution, this video really opens a perspective about something that could really be useful to us and stop making this problem grow, Mexico is a place that has beautiful cities, mountains, and beautiful resources, if we don't start doing something about it, in not too many years we are going to be sorry for the consequences . Some of the things i think we could do fro our houses is Recycling, stop using as much paper and plastic, maybe instead of buying more clothes you could buy second hand.

Submitted by A01285765 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 21:41

There are a lot of ways to stop pollution, this video really opens a perspective about something that could really be useful to us and stop making this problem grow, Mexico is a place that has beautiful cities, mountains, and beautiful resources, if we don't start doing something about it, in not too many years we are going to be sorry for the consequences .

Submitted by Kolya100 on Tue, 01/19/2021 - 17:54

We can give up plastic bags. It is environmentally and economically. Everyone can refuse disposable bottles and utensils. We meet with them every day, it is better to have reusable bottles and utensils. And the main thing is to sort garbage and give it for recycling.

Submitted by a01286106 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:29

I can't agree more with you, I think plastic bags is a must go when we talk about stoping plastic pollution.

In reply to by Kolya100

Submitted by A01286123 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:52

I think that's a very good idea and also because is something that we can all do and it's very cheap and easily to do it.

In reply to by Kolya100

Submitted by a01286106 on Thu, 03/18/2021 - 20:28

Bruno: I agree with you, I believe that if we reduce the use of plastic we would not only help the environment but also the economy.

In reply to by Kolya100

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Submitted by Sidekich66 on Tue, 01/19/2021 - 14:04

If we want to stop plastic pollution, we need to reject using plastic at all. Nevertheless, I see misunderstanding of the global problems among a lot of people. There is a lot of information in the Internet about this, about the unavoidable future of our planet, but who cares? First of all, we should use cloth bags, buy food by weight, say "no" to packaging. And last but not least — we must instil love of nature in the next generations.

Submitted by fernandoag on Fri, 10/23/2020 - 03:19

What can we do in our everyday lives to stop plastic pollution? We as a whole need to recycle more often and send it to an organization that specialize in making products out of recycled plastics to put an end to plastic pollution in our oceans, because the marine life in this planet is depleting every second because of our pollution.

Submitted by a01197985 on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 22:16

What can we do in our everyday lives to stop plastic pollution? We can start by recycling all the plastic that we use and start creating an stop plastic pollution culture where we teach our family and friends to start recycling all the plastic.

Submitted by A01280844 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:25

The truth is that I consider that you are totally right, because all the things we do or the customs that we have, were taught to us by our parents and it is very important to instill in children the importance of not polluting.

In reply to by a01197985

Submitted by A01286176 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:45

Axel -yeah, im according with you also we can do using the rule of the Three R Reduce,Rycle and reuse for stop the pollution if al the world star to separate the garbage in diferents types of Trash can be like organics and inorganics we can help the environment and get a better life for us

In reply to by a01197985

Submitted by alejandramr on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 21:50

What we can do in our everyday lives to stop plastic pollution is replacing plastic products with others that are made to be more reusable, less wasteful and less polluting for the environment, for example, instead of using plastic water bottles, we can use metal ones.

Submitted by JohanaD on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:30

I agree with you, we must stop the consumption of plastics.

In reply to by alejandramr

Submitted by Yuly on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 21:47

Mexico has a lot of beautiful beaches, and the most important oceans, and it's so sad that we haven't done something to stop it. This is an excellent way to stop plastic pollution, we have to take awareness of how this has bad effects to marine life.

Submitted by a01285665 on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:25

I agree with you, I'm from Mexico too, and I think is completely necessary to take action to stop the pollution in the ocean if we want to protect marine life.

In reply to by Yuly

Submitted by Cesar1213 on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 21:33

we need to acknowledge that this is a serious problem and start seeking new alternatives, like separating trash, less waste and recycling more

Submitted by marianrg on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 21:33

Being realistic, as individuals the only way we can stop or reduce plastic pollution is by being cero waste, if you use plastics reuse them, but try to not use it, instead use ecological and biodegradable stuff

Submitted by A01284811 on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 21:30

We can use recycling bags and not plastic ones or buy bags that can be destroyed with water and throw the garbage in the cans.

Submitted by A01284820 on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 21:26

What we can do to stop plastic pollution is to in all the beaches put a can of trash specifically to put in there the bottles that are made out of plastic. This will decrease the number of pollution.

Submitted by Storm34 on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 21:22

Now days everyone throws the trash were they want, they don't care about what happen to the world or to the sea, we need to change these, what we can do is putting some cans of trash, were everyone could see it, so everyone thorw there the trash.

Submitted by Arturo on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:17

I am with you, some people do not respect and you have to avoid littering to help the environment and animals

In reply to by Storm34

Submitted by XavierLealLeal on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 21:19

The easiest way to reduce the quantity of waste we create is by truing to buy thongs that are packed with the least material posible and to reduce the amount of food we buy with disposable packages as chips or soda.

Submitted by Seppup on Wed, 10/02/2019 - 00:38

We must raise awareness of enviroment Dont throw away garbage everywhere Replace plastic

Submitted by Fatima on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:26

I completely agree with you, many schools does not teach this, they tell us how to do it but they do not show us how do it.

In reply to by Seppup

Submitted by Acropora98 on Sun, 09/08/2019 - 01:35

The best way to stop plastic pollution is to aviod throwing plastic in the ocean. :)
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Submitted by empty on Wed, 04/03/2019 - 12:06

Boring!

Submitted by CarlosB on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 23:21

I think this is not boring at all because it is a very serious problem that we all need to worry about, we have to change the world!

In reply to by empty

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