Dutch Teen Leads Ocean Cleanup Project

October 5, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. cleanup /ˈklinˌʌp/ (n.) – process of extensive cleaning and organizing
Example: Environmentalists conduct monthly cleanup operations on urban rivers.

2. litter /ˈlɪt ər/ (n.) – waste that is not properly disposed
Example: The teacher told the students to pick up litter under their chair.

3. fruition /fruˈɪʃ ən/ (n.) – completion or achieving the end of a desired goal
Example: The research has now come to fruition after months of hard work.

4. oceanographer /ˌoʊ ʃəˈnɒg rə fɜr/ (n.) – a scientist who studies about oceans and its inhabitants
Example: Some oceanographers spend most of their time diving deep under water.

5. realistic /ˌri əˈlɪs tɪk/ (adj.) – having qualities that make something real or possible to happen
Example: Several studies were done to prove that the invention is realistic.


Read the text below.
Plastic-free oceans can now be more achievable with the help of a cleanup project led by a 19-year-old Dutch student.

Boyan Slat, an aeronautical engineering student at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), came up with a concept called “Ocean Cleanup Array [uh-REY]” to collect plastic wastes from the ocean. Instead of going after the plastics, Slat plans to let the waste come by taking advantage of the ocean currents.

The five major oceanic currents or “gyres [jahyuh rz]” contain most of the litter in the ocean. Thus, Slat’s team plans to set up large, floating traps around the gyres where the plastics will be gathered.

With the help of fellow marine advocates, Slat’s idea is now closer to fruition. He recalled that his idea began while he was scuba diving in Greece, where he saw more plastics than fish in the ocean.

After developing the initial details of his project, he presented the study in a global conference in 2012. With his presentation, he won the Best Technical Design award. Currently, he has 100 co-workers around the world, including oceanographers, engineers, and legal experts.

While the project seems very realistic for many, some experts doubt the invention’s capability. Among the criticisms were that the ocean traps can harm marine life and that tiny plastics would be hard to trap.

Slat and his team did a series of studies for a year to clear these questions. The feasibility [fee-zuh-BUH li-tee] studies have succeeded. Now, Slat looks at his next goal to gather half of the trash in the northern Pacific Ocean within 10 years.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think Slat’s team can achieve its goal of cleaning the Pacific Ocean? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think an invention with a great purpose, like the cleanup project, still faces criticisms?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think plastic pollution is prevalent in the ocean?
·         What do you think would happen to marine life if ocean pollution gets worse? Kindly discuss.

October 5, 2014