Water has been in the news a lot lately, from California’s historic megadrought, to this month’s five-year anniversary of the Macondo Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Not all of it is grim, however. Boyan Slat, a 20-year-old Dutch engineering student, has designed a passive filtration system for the ocean’s garbage patches which, he says, can clear hundreds of millions of pounds of plastic from the ocean over the next 10 years while minimally impacting the wildlife population.
Slat’s Ocean Cleanup concept is already in the works, and has received major recognition. It was recently shortlisted for London Design Museum’s 2015 Design of the Year award, a prestigious honor that includes other such nominees as Google’s self-driving car and Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton building. Last November, he won the United Nations’ environmental flagship award, Champions of the Earth, in the inspiration and action category.