Every day, up to 15 tons (30,000 pounds!) of trash flows into the Indian Ocean via a single river—Jangkuk River in Lombok, Indonesia. As single-use plastics and other trash gets into the ocean, marine life and entire ecosystems are negatively impacted.
Oceans Care is one group taking action. The group has set out to build a trash wheel at the mouth of the river to intercept trash before it goes into the ocean. TaZa had the chance to interview the Oceans Care team to learn more about the trash wheel and their vision.
What motivated you to initiate this project?
A group of artists traveled together on the ship Al Isra, journeying for over a week to abandoned islands where no one lived, and island after island was covered in trash. We had to do something after seeing that.
Has a project like this ever been done before?
Yes, there are many! The first trash wheel, Mr. Trash Wheel, is in Baltimore, where it has intercepted over 441 tons of trash from flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, once trash is in open waters, it is very difficult to recover. There are trash wheels going up in Rio and in Hawaii, and a couple more in Baltimore. Clearwater Mills’ technology is genius.
What happens to the trash once it’s collected?
We are working on that. It goes to a landfill to be sorted, some items being recycled and up-cycled into commodity goods that will help support the costs of maintaining the wheel. This is our end goal.
What have been your major hurdles so far?
Fundraising has been a hurdle and working as an international team, with every member having other full time jobs, while being dedicated to the cause. We work hard, there will always be hurdles, but you must push on with a smile.
Who will maintain the wheel on an on-going basis?
Project manager, Zia Helmi, will be overseeing the wheel once it is installed in the Jangkuk River. He is a local journalist and activist who has galvanized his friends and community into creating a call to action for ocean and river clean up.
Collecting trash before it goes into the ocean is a wonderful initiative, but what are some ways that people can prevent creating so much waste in the first place?
Great question! Education is critical for this to be effective in preventing trash from flowing into the oceans! We must create awareness about the problems with plastic waste and help to build waste management systems and encourage eco-friendly packaging, and discourage single use plastics. This is the only way we can truly break the chain. As long as there is waste, some will always end up in a river, as the elements push the waste around, but with a trash wheel and community awareness and participation, we can stop the flood of pollution into the ocean.
Any other thoughts you want to share with our readers?
Please check out our campaign to make this happen! We have a few days left to go and really need the support to see the project through. We have a great line of clothing, art, and up-cycled plastic bags as perks. Thank you so much for your support, attention, and time!