The problem

The largest known accumulation of plastic debris is found in the central North Pacific Ocean. It contains primarily floating plastics trapped and concentrated by currents associated with the North Pacific Gyre northeast of the Hawaiian Islands. Estimates of size range from 270,000 square miles to more than 5,800,000 square miles, or twice the size of the United States.  No-one is exactly certain of the size and scope of the floating garbage patch as it is constantly changing and much of it is invisible floating just beneath the surface of the water. However the content of the floating debris is certain, large amounts of plastic debris created by the over manufacture, consumption and careless disposal of plastics in our environment.

Why you should care

These long-lasting plastics become part of the marine food chain by ending up in the stomachs of marine fish, birds, turtles and mammals. The most obvious danger from the floating pieces ingested by turtles, birds and mammals is digestive impaction or gastric perforation, killing the animals soon after they eat the debris. The smallest particles of plastics may even be taken up by plankton with the toxic effects of the plastics become concentrated as they move up the food chain resulting in the highest concentrations in the top predators such as large fish, sharks and whales potentially affecting their health and reproduction-termed “bioaccumulation”. In addition to affecting the health of the animals eating the plastics, these top predators such as large fish like tuna may be eaten by people who may then also suffer from poor health associated with plastic toxins.

The solution

We propose studying the problem by sampling the plastic debris via research vessels. Once the problem is better understood we then plan to develop specialized boats with special gear similar to a wheat harvester to move through the garbage patch removing marine plastic debris. Our ultimate goal will be to have multiple vessels cleaning up plastic debris with at least one garbage barge to accept the harvested waste such that the clean-up effort will be able to continue uninterrupted.

The activities of OGP will be centered around action and advocacy to study, clean-up and reduce floating plastic debris in the ocean via scientific research and public awareness. We will fund this by soliciting donations through our website, by selling non-plastic consumer goods as a replacement for single use plastics, and by submitting grants. Using scientific methods to identify the key problems and to develop solutions to the problem in addition to educate the public about floating plastic debris we further our organization’s exempt purposes.  One hundred percent of Ocean Garbage Patch’s time will be dedicated to the study, clean-up, and reduction of floating plastic debris. 

Milestones/Fundraising Goals

  1. Local cleanup and research activities in Seattle area with Julie Masura (OGP Board Member and featured in below video): Our goal is to raise $10,000 to pay for vessel time and a boat captain to deploy 2 research scientists and citizen scientists in Puget Sound to study and clean-up plastic pollutionOutcome: Develop process for effective study and removal of plastic from the water. 
  2. Purchase small boat for regular surveys in Puget Sound with OGP staff and citizen scientists such as high school and college students: Our goal is to raise $25,000 for the purchase of a small (20-35 foot) motorboat. Outcome: Year round Clean-up of Puget Sound area and continued plastic removal and research. 
  3. Develop professional architectural design and model of the plastic clean up catamaran vessel with plastic harvester mechanism. Develop video illustrating how the vessel would work. Our goal is to raise $30,000 for the design and prototype model demonstrating how the plastic harvester will work on the research catamaran.
  4. Initial survey and clean-up of the North Pacific Gyre northeast of Hawaii. Our goal is to raise $125,000 for initial survey of the North Pacific Gyre northeast of Hawaii. Outcome: Initial clean up and study of North Pacific Gyre. Develop plan and feasibility study for on-going and uninterrupted clean-up.  

    Video courtesy of University of Washington

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