Could the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge Change the World?

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“Every day, about one megaton more is produced, enough to make almost 22 trillion water bottles—and more than 90 percent of that will never see the inside of a recycling plant” (Borunda 2019).

Can we stop pollution? The answer depends on our attitudes and actions moving forward. Unfortunately, pollution has become a much worse issue than we feared and many organizations are still not doing their part in aiding the fight against it. In an article recently published by National Geographic, journalist Alejandra Borunda examines a new opportunity for everyone to join the fight against pollution.

Specifically, National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures have created the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge to collect solutions from around the world in response to plastic waste pollution. The challenge revolves around three tracks with each track tackling different parts of the pollution problem. Not to mention, each track’s various rewards total up close to $500,000 with added investments and mentoring from Sky Ocean Venture. With submissions being accepted until June and winners announced in December, there is plenty of time for genius minds in sustainable practices to come forth and produce stellar ideas or innovations.

The three main plastic pollution issues being divided into “tracks” for the OPI Challenge are: designing better packaging; creating zero-waste business models (#noplastic); tapping data miners and designers to create intuitive ways to demonstrate the large scale of the pollution problem. Seeing as there is “270 pounds of plastic waste Americans go through each year,” this initiative is in response to the crucial necessity for more and more organizations to step forward in different ways to help combat the sources of the world’s pollution.

This initiative is definitely a step in the right direction and will hopefully see some of the world’s brilliant brains create mind-blowing ideas. I will say though, we should not necessarily need outside incentives such as prizes to think of ways to help the environment. Sure, any real game-changing innovation should be properly funded, but the small things we can do like recycling our waste or even switching from plastic to paper products (@Seastraws) do not need such an incentive. Small changes like these are totally accessible ways for everyone to contribute to getting rid of plastic and cutting off pollution overall.