Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s a huge pile of garbage that’s located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean — and it’s larger than the great state of Texas. Sadly, there are millions of tons of garbage that have collected into one section of the ocean to form what’s essentially an island of trash — i.e., just one form of ocean pollution.
An Ocean Pollution Primer
If you’re just now hearing about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, you might be wondering, “Where did all of this garbage and trash come from?” It has really come from all over:
- People intentionally polluting the ocean and dumping their garbage, including Asian municipal programs and recreational boats
- Lost fishing nets and fishing lines, which constitutes more than half the garbage patch
- Trash pulled out by the currents into the ocean that could have been blown from miles inland
It’s a sad thought that people intentionally pollute the earth without a second thought — as if the planet were put here to be their personal garbage can. While many people do trash the earth intentionally, a lot of the trash in the oceans got there by accident. People spend a day at the beach or out on the marina and a piece of trash blows away before they can grab it.
Life happens, right? No one is the perfect steward of the earth, even if we try to be.
The trash is there. The damage is done. Even if we put measures into place right now to stop any additional trash from entering the ocean, we’re already in a pretty big predicament.
So, let’s talk about what can we do right now to get the trash out of the water.
- We could get together groups of people that would gather each piece of trash by hand, much like land-based cleanup crews. Given the vast expanse of the ocean, that would be a nearly impossible task, but it’s an option to think about.
- We can just let the trash and garbage be and not worry about it. It’ll only take a few thousand years for all the garbage and ocean pollution to be broken down and decomposed. That’s without any new trash making its way into the ocean, of course.
- Or, we can look to people who are already taking steps to get and keep the trash out of the water, like the owners of Seabin, and follow their lead.
What Is Seabin?
The Seabin Project, the research and development branch of Australian technology innovation company Seabin, has created a floating, bucket-shaped trash bin for use at marinas, private pontoons, residential lakes, inland waterways, ports harbors and yacht clubs. It can even be fitted to super yachts and motor yachts!
It’s a pretty amazing system that has been designed to catch everything from trash to oil to fuel spills to detergents, with the goal of preventing ocean pollution. If we can catch all the trash that’s near shore before it moves too far off the coast, we can ultimately help keep trash from moving to and becoming part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
What? Sounds too good to be true, right? Fortunately, Seabin is a reality. It’s something that can be implemented everywhere now to reduce ocean pollution.
A Moment of Clarity
Andrew Turton, one of the inventors of Seabin, started off being a part of the problem like so many people. In his former life, Turton was a plastic product designer. To the oceans of the world, he was like Kryptonite to Superman. The work he did every day was contributing to the problem of plastic and ocean pollution.
One day, Turton woke up and had a moment of clarity. He decided to quit his job and used his superpowers to invent the Seabin. Turton partnered with his good friend Pete Ceglinski and they started on the Seabin adventure.
Seabins aren’t only for the ocean, either. A lot of people love going to lakes and spending a day of fun there. We do. We have a nice large lake here in Big Bear that sports 22 miles of coastline. I think every single dock on our lake should have a few Seabins attached to them. We have a lot of tourists who leave trash on the ground and seem to think nothing about it. And, of course, there are plenty of accidents that happen with litter, too. A lot of that trash winds up in the lake.
Changing the Look
The inventors of Seabin want to go beyond offering a solution to clean up existing trash in the ocean and create a world with no ocean pollution and no need for Seabins. They want to educate people and cultures about being more responsible with the use and disposal of plastics so future generations don’t find themselves in this predicament. They also want to set up educational programs for students in schools. Educating our youth is key to changing the future.
Seabin wants to use the most sustainable materials and processes available so they have the lowest carbon footprint possible in the production of the Seabins. They also want to reduce the impact of shipping by having the Seabins manufactured in the countries of installation. This would also help local economies by providing jobs in local areas.
Think about it this way: If every dock in the world and every pontoon boat and every yacht and so on had a Seabin, what would the effects be — besides getting all the trash out of the water? Plastics that get caught on, drown and kill animals like turtles would be a thing of the past. There wouldn’t be any more fish or mammals dying due to eating plastics and trash. The fish we catch out of our waters would be healthier, heartier and ultimately better for us to eat.
What would that world look like? How would it feel? Pretty amazing, right? Perhaps it’s time for each of us to work with our local waterways to get Seabins implemented.
Where would you like to see Seabins used?
Feature image credit: The Seabin Project
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on May 27, 2018.