This article was originally published in Medium.

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A recent episode of VPRO– Tegenlicht launched me into a turmoil of emotion and energy [access episode: Dutch audiences / international audiences].

24-year old Boyan Slat is working hard on solving the messwe have created, he is cleaning up the ocean of all plastics we have dumped init – just your average everyday feat.

After seeing more plastic than fish while diving in Greeceand feeling the urgency of the problem, Boyan dropped out of an engineeringdegree at the Delft University and started The Ocean Cleanup. At the candid ageof 17, with a start capital of 300 Eur of savings.

After a slow start, The Ocean Cleanup really took off on October 2012 after Slat gave a Tedx Talk that went viral. Since then, “How the Oceans Clean Themselves” has been seen by 2,8+M people from all corners of the world and received support and donations from academia, scientists, companies and private investors.

It is estimated that 1.15 to 2.41 million tons of plasticare entering the ocean each year from rivers. Due to currents, plasticaccumulates in specific areas such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,currently estimated to be three times the size of France.

 “Plastic in the ocean will not go away by itself and so, we must cleanit.”, Boyan says matter-of-factly.

Even if cleaning up the ocean from plastic doesn’t solve the complex problem of plastic in its entirety in today’s capitalistic consumeristic society, cleaning after ourselves is an imperative.

For its influence and far-reaching impact in expanding awareness and in creating a solution for extracting plastic out of the ocean, Boyan Slat has been dubbed Dutch Person of the Year in December 2017 by weekly news Dutch magazine Elsevier. Over a period of 6 years, The Ocean Cleanup has analyzed the real dimension of the problem and developed a technology that is as sober in design and cost, as is effective in function and deployment.

After 273 scale modeltests, six at-sea prototypes, a comprehensive mapping of the Great PacificGarbage Patch with 30 vessels and an airplane, and several technologyiterations, we are now ready to put the world’s first ocean cleanup system tothe test.” – Boyan Slat.

Solution-oriented and forward-looking, The Ocean Cleanup is a force that stays connected to the core of its mission through positivity and focus, Director of Corporate Affairs Joost Dubois underlies.

The challenge to talk about scientific research data and technology while keeping it simple, is beautifully accomplished by The Ocean Cleanup through compelling visual infographics, renderings, photography and video, as well as an extremely informative website in which audiences with different depths of knowledge and needs can dive into and navigate comfortably. Exercising transparency above and beyond, The Ocean Cleanup documents every step of its journey, films every meeting.

This clear knowledge management strategy and guidelinesseems to set the non-profit apart and allow it to innovate and evolvecontinuously, from reinventing and perfecting the technology to trying outdifferent funding strategies – from the early and hugely successfulcrowdfunding campaigns to today’s thoughtful integration of new partnerships.

In today’s world of shattered ideals and mounting environmental, social and political threats, The Ocean Cleanup’s greatest impact is not just its heroic and effective action to solve the ‘unsolvable’ plastic waste issue, but its capacity to show that any one of us can significantly help to protect life on earth. 

Make Sure to Read More and Educate Yourself on the Full Scope of the Plastic Problem Here.

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