How can we clean up and protect our oceans?

I was recently having dinner with some friends and the topic of plastic in our oceans came up and quickly the conversation shifted from light and jovial to despairing. The conversation inspired me to want to better understand what organizations are out there that are doing work in this area and how I could get involved.

Below are three organizations dedicated to cleaning and developing solutions to protect our oceans:

  1. The Ocean Cleanup foundation is one organization that is doing innovative work to clean the oceans of plastic. A young Dutch inventor, Boyan Slat and his team have designed massive floating booms that sit on the surface of the ocean and use the ocean currents to collect the plastic. Their goal is to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the ocean located between Hawaii and California, that has the highest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world in 5 years’ time. Watch his presentation on how the system works here. As Boyan Slat states, “We must diffuse this ticking time bomb” and the time is now to begin this massive cleanup effort.
  2. Surfrider founded 34 years ago in Malibu by a group of passionate surfers and is focused on protecting and preserving our oceans. The organization has mobilized chapters of activists across the US and Canada to help clean and protect beaches. They focus on 5 key areas: clean water, beach access, ocean protection, coastal preservation, and plastic pollution. Learn how you can join a local chapter here.
  3. Would you like to support the next generation of ocean leaders? The 5 Gyres Institute is an Ocean Heroes Bootcamp created in partnership with the U.N. The program is designed to help mentor an cultivate youth on how they can take action against ocean plastic pollution. Learn more about the program here.

Anyone living near the water is particularly conscious of just how delicate the future of our ocean ecosystems is. There are organizations working hard to solve this problem, ideas being tested as solutions, and people out there doing great work to support. If you need some additional inspiration to figure out what your role could be to help clean and protect our oceans, I recommend listening to Dr. John Todd’s podcast on ‘Working with Nature to Clean Water’. As he states in the podcast, “What has been destroyed, can be healed. There is an alternative to destruction.”


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