Thumbs up: Cleaning up the garbage patch

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Thumbs up to Boyan Slat, a 24-year from the Netherlands who is trying to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of plastic detritus twice the size of Texas swirling in the ocean between California and Hawaii. “One of our goals is to remove 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years,” Slat told KQED.

On Saturday, his organization, the Ocean Cleanup, launched a 2,000-foot long boom that, following a couple of weeks of sea trials, is expected to reach the garbage patch in mid-October and begin corralling some of the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the gyre. The captured plastic is to be transported by a support vessel back to land, where it can be sorted and recycled.

Ocean Cleanup has raised more than $35 million, which paid for the first boom and a study published in the journal Scientific Reports that quantified the scope of the garbage patch. Slat’s plans include additional booms to expand the cleanup effort.

You can help, too. Saturday is Coastal Cleanup Day. Thousands of volunteers will fan out across California’s beaches and waterways to pick up trash that could end up in the garbage patch. For information about local efforts, go to

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