Written by Candice

Apr 21, 2022

Inventions from and for the ocean

All over the world, scientists are trying to find new ways that might help our planet. We think the following inventions for eco-cleanup could be revolutionary in the next few years. Especially to our marine ecosystems (not to mention we are witnessing pure awesomeness).

Waste no longer wasted

British design student, Lucy Hughes, has created a material that biodegrades in six weeks. The material feels and looks like plastic, but is actually made from sea waste like fish scales and algae! Her product – MarinaTex – is nontoxic, but it is also flexible, transparent and stronger than regular plastic. This is a great alternative to single-use plastic that we can use to bottle water and carry groceries. Hughes was awarded the prestigious and international James Dyson Award for her awesome design!

Biodegradable material made to look like plastic.

Bacteria get hungry too

Another option which could help fight the current plastic problem could be found with Oregon student, Morgan Vague. She discovered a way to combine bacteria to produce an enzyme. This enzyme is actually able to eat plastic from the oceans and transform it into harmless products! At the same time, it acts as a fuel source for the bacteria. Plastic usually takes centuries to break down, so it is phenomenal that this solution is almost all-natural. However, this solution can only begin making a difference once the bacteria eat at the same rate that people discard plastic. This means we either need a lot more of these bacteria or we must decrease how much plastic we use and throw away. Either way, this is a step in the right direction for eco-cleanup!

Eco-cleanup made easier by plastic eating bacteria.

Mini islands

The Recycled Island Foundation have been working to create floating water parks made from garbage. In Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Mass River, the recycled island is used by people. It is also home to many animals above and below the water. Traps are constructed to collect trash from the water. The trash is then recycled and pressed into floating blocks of plastic and strung together create a floating island. The island can then be uniquely decorated.

Mini islands of floating trash

One runner at a time

The 2019 London Marathon set a good example when they substituted 200 000 plastic bottles of water by giving runners water pods that look like heavy, squishy bubbles. These transparent pods were produced by Skipping Rocks Lab and are made from seaweed extract. So, they are both edible and biodegradable! This company was founded in 2014 and we only heard about them five years later. This proves that big events like the London Marathon can truly help spread awareness about global issues and spark hope for the future.

Completely edible water bubble.

Go big or go bigger

The most impressive inventor of the lot is probably Dutch student, Boyan Slat. At age 18 he created a floating boom system, known as the Interceptor, which forms a U-shape to effectively pick up plastic on the surface of water. The Interceptor is a part of (and designed by) the non-profit Ocean Cleanup, which was founded by Slat. The Interceptor follows currents and has been deployed to clean up 1.8 trillion pieces of garbage in the Pacific Ocean. This nifty contraption can also be used for eco-cleanup in rivers and other bodies of water. Once the boom is full of trash, a boat meets it, empties it and brings the garbage back on land where it can be sorted and recycled.

Eco-cleanup with a floating boom

Did you notice that all of the inventors were students? It really is so cool that we are part of a generation making big changes with their designs! Their sheer desire to make our world a place that we can safely inhabit for many years to come is inspiring.

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