A few years before Yacouba Sawadogo was recognized, the 2014 Champion of the Earth was the youngest ever acknowledged by the United Nations; he was also listed in Forbes’ 2016 30 Under 30 and nominated as the 2018 European Entrepreneur of the Year by Euronews. These international awards make up the planet’s public bulletin board where the names of sustainability geniuses are recorded. Our winner is very well known: Boyan Slat.
Why go looking for plastic if plastic comes to you? This is what the young inventor of The Ocean Cleanup asked himself. The Ocean Cleanup is a system of low floating barriers that sink and bob with ocean currents, traveling more slowly than the plastic waste to be collected. This trash is recycled on shore and turned into the products that are then sold to finance the very same project which aims to clean up the Pacific Ocean’s Great Garbage Patch within ten years.
Boyan’s story should be discovered one episode at a time. But a quote from him explains the spirit of The Ocean Cleanup: even with today’s constant technological progress, in order to solve the global problem of pollution, technology should not be applied to nature. Quite simply, it must be applied with it, “working with nature rather than fighting it.”