As we continue to count down to Earth Day, we’re celebrating the work of a passionate sailor and educator who is cleaning the garbage dump in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Thank you, Mary Crowley
It’s twice the size of Texas and the largest concentration of plastic debris in the world. As the Great Pacific Garbage Patch continues to grow at an alarming rate, Mary Crowley is determined to clean up the ocean and recycle the plastic she retrieves from our waters.
Mary Crowley is a native of Illinois who spent her early years sailing on Lake Michigan. Her love of sailing led her to pursue a career in the boat delivery business and eventually boat chartering. Also an educator, Crowley helped found the nonprofit Ocean Voyages Institute in 1979.
An important contribution
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has amassed because of a unique set of currents called the North Pacific Gyre. These currents circulate the ocean’s garbage into one concentrated spot, and the patch continues to get bigger because plastic constantly enters the ocean through river flow, storm drains, sewage, and wind.
To attack this massive problem, Crowley started Project Kaisei, a non-profit organization that achieves two things: 1) Enlists fishing vessels to physically capture the debris, and 2) Increases awareness of this issue, in terms of scale, impact on environment, prevention, and clean-up.
While there are significantly large pieces of debris to collect, most of the plastic is small and confetti-like, making it difficult to capture in nets. Debris this small ends up being ingested by marine life, and the dangers work their way up the food chain. Undeterred, Crowley and Project Kaisei continue to test new technologies to gather this debris, while also using remediation technologies to detox the materials and turn it into a valuable fuel.
Project Kaisei was recognized by the United Nations Environmental Partnership (UNEP) as a Climate Hero, and was named a Google Earth Hero for their work with innovative video blogging and social media outreach. In 2010, the Clinton Global Initiative identified Project Kaisei as part of a new sub-group at CGI, called “Rethinking Waste.”
Join Mary Crowley’s cause
The world’s oceans are Mary Crowley’s passion, which ignites her commitment and dedication to ocean conservation and preservation. She feels that the health of our oceans is everybody’s responsibility.
What will you do this Earth Day to inspire a change for our oceans?