Much has been talked about the problem of plastic pollution. Are there any workable solutions in sight? There is much hype about a new ocean cleanup system invented by Boyan Slat. It is called the Passive Cleanup System. How does it work? Over five trillion pieces of plastic currently litter the ocean. This is a staggering figure. There are five large ocean garbage patches. The largest of them is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, sometimes also called the Pacific Trash Vortex, which is located between Hawaii and California. This garbage patch measures 1.6 million km2.
Cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch using conventional methods, like vessels and nets, would take thousands of years and tens of billions of dollars to accomplish. The Passive Cleanup Systems is estimated to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage patch in just five years, and it would be at a fraction of the cost. Because plastic is spread across millions of square kilometers and travels in all directions this new cleanup technology will concentre the plastic first, before removing it. The system consists of a long floater that sits at the surface of the water and of a skirt that hangs beneath it to catch plastic at the lower levels.
The Passive Cleanup System
Both, plastic and the passive system, are carried by the wind, waves, and the ocean current. In order to catch the plastic the system is slowed down by an anchor and thus a drag is created. After accumulating and capturing the plastic it is extracted and stored to be taken away by ships. It is planned to deploy such a system into every one of the five garbage patches. It is estimated that he Ocean Cleanup projects is able to remove 90% of ocean plastic by 2040.
However, this is only one side of the equation. The other one is that plastic needs to be reduced at the source. This is where my planned social media campaign comes in. It is an endeavour to persuade Sainsbury’s to either ditch their orange bags, which were called ‘Bag for Life, but which have unfortunately morphed into a ‘Bag for a Day’. This is much due to the aggressive selling techniques used at the till by asking customers ‘Do you want a bag?’ It is therefore hoped, due to a dedicated social media campaign, that Sainsbury’s, if they are not yet prepared to ditch their one-way orange bags, they at least take a more educational approach at the till and ask customers ‘Have you brought your bag?’ So far this attempt has largely failed, even though there was a lengthy exchange with Sainsbury’s customer service.
Sainsbury’s Bag for a Day
How are environmental operations and issues presented on social media? First of all we have to understand that the environmental problems facing us today are not isolated. They are two different sides of the same coin. Let’s take the example of climate change and plastic pollution for instance. How are they the same problem and how are they connected with each other? It is the oil in the ground that connects them; plastic comes from oil and the warming climate is produced by oil too. Therefore activists like Great Thunberg declare boldly, “keep the oil in the ground”.
Let us look at influencers on social media and how they conduct their campaigns. Mike Hudema for instance is an activist on Twitter and regularly and persistently posts about environmental solutions with the caption ‘We have the solutions, let’s implement them’.
He is promoting green jobs via the Green New Deal. Every single of his tweets contains a video with the slogan “We have the solutions, let’s implement them”. He uses a number of hashtags such as:
Almost all his hashtags reference @GretaThunberg. Mike is an influencer with over 114,000 followers accumulated over the past 11 years. Many of the tweets have been produced by the World Economic Forum and appear on Facebook, others are by Greenpeace and other major players. He has no re-tweets. His videos are produced to a professional standard with captions and animated text and they generate thousands of views. Moreover, they are consistent in style and tone. One gets the feel of interacting with a brand. They are a good example and guideline for anyones social media campaign.