Plastics & Pollution Detection, Removal, & Alternatives
Water quality monitoring, Systems for runoff & wastewater mismanagement, Pollution removal, Marine plastics upstream & downstream
Marine pollution is outpacing our ability to adequately manage it. 14 billion pounds of trash enter our rivers and streams each year (NOAA) making their way into the sea. Along with each story of a lost organism, we must remember that voting with our dollar for alternatives and understanding the impacts of our choices creates small, meaningful change.
Water quality monitoring
Water quality monitoring is essential to understanding the chemical and biological makeup of the water that surrounds us. Routine water quality monitoring provides empirical, objective evidence that helps to make sound decisions that seek to better understand ongoing and emerging problems to protect ourselves and the planet. (https://water.usgs.gov/owq/WhyMonitorWaterQuality.pdf)
Systems for fertilizer runoff & wastewater mismanagement
Whether it be natural waste or fertilizer runoff there is little that can be done to remove the most harmful substances after proper treatment. All drains lead to the sea and over time this build-up of nitrogenous compounds causes eutrophication. This is because the oxygen is completely depleted from the water as the bacteria grows and in turn can cause toxic algal blooms and wildlife dead zones. Seaweed can be used to mitigate the build-up of toxins because it removes excess phosphorus and nitrogen that collects in waterways. Seaweed can also be used for biofuels while its biomass can be used to make fertilizer to make crops on land more productive.
There is a reason so many of us are drawn to beach clean-ups. The ability to be the change, see the difference through our actions and come together as a community are just a few of the appeals but there is much more to pollution removal. The harsh truth is that according to the Smithsonian, some 244,000 metric tons (that’s 537,927,920 pounds) of trash are floating along the surface of the ocean each year; on top of that there are 8.5 million metric tons sinking to the seafloor. As ocean innovators and entrepreneurs, along with your help, we are focused on creating strategic vehicles to reduce the pollution in our waterways.
Marine plastics Downstream: removal of macro, micro, and nano plastics
As the currents and winds of the ocean act to create garbage patches the number of large plastics, microplastics, or small pieces of broken up litter, and nanoplastics circulate along with it. Through the constant shifting of currents the plastics are eroded through the water column where each piece is broken down smaller and smaller at risk of further endangering marine life and making clean up nearly impossible.
Marine plastics Upstream: Creating alternatives to take plastic out of the supply chain and replace them with eco-friendly biodegradable materials
One-third of Americans, and upwards of 50 percent of consumers worldwide, say that they are willing to “pay more for green or environmentally-friendly products.” (https://scholar.valpo.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1014&context=cba_fac_pub )
When it comes to pollution removal the biggest influence is consumer choice. We have the power to support companies and organizations that create effective alternatives to plastic. Some alternatives are corn-based plastics, utilizing plant sugars for bottle packaging, or even mushroom-based leather - the innovations are endless. It is key to remember that there are not any regulations in place for labeling products as biodegradable or eco-friendly.