Surface water Analysis Americas

TeamSeas: Social media influencers cleaning up ocean plastic

Monday, 20 December 2021

Social media star “Mr Beast” has teamed with former NASA and Apple engineer, and fellow YouTuber Mark Rober to help tackle the challenge of plastic pollution.


How do you remove 30 million pounds (13,607,771 Kg) of plastic from the ocean?

The answer involves two social media stars joining forces and bringing people, charities and innovations together.

Jimmy Donaldson, better known by his YouTube alias “Mr Beast” shot to fame over the past three years by making videos where he regularly gives out large sums of money to people in need.

“They have decided to use their influence of over 100 million combined subscribers to remove plastic from the ocean.”

Recently, his SquidGame in real-life video, based on the hit Netflix show, saw 500 people compete for just under half a million US dollars and received 142 million views in just eight days - setting a new record.

Now, with fellow YouTuber and former NASA and Apple engineer Mark Rober, they have decided to use their influence of over 100 million combined subscribers to remove plastic from the ocean.

Teaming up with the charity, Ocean Conservancy, they have created the #TeamSeas clean-up project that will use the money raised from viewer donations and advertisement revenue on cleaning up our oceans, beaches and rivers.

Friendly competition

So where did it start?

Back in October, both Mr Beast and Mark Rober challenged each other to see who could clean up more plastic in the Dominican Republic.

Mr Beast took on one of the world's most plastic polluted beaches, using 1,000 volunteers from the Ocean Conservancy to pick up 62,738 lbs of plastic and waste in four days.

Mark Rober on the other hand, had to clean up one of the world's most plastic polluted rivers all by himself, with the help of Boyan Slat, the Dutch inventor behind the Interceptor and founder of Ocean Cleanup.

“80 per cent of the plastic in our ocean comes from 1 per cent of rivers.”

According to the Ocean Conservancy, 80 per cent of the plastic in our ocean comes from 1 per cent of rivers.

The floating Interceptor robots are located at the mouths of the river to collect waste from the river current and funnel it to six floating dumpsters. Once full, the material is carried away for recycling.

The Interceptors are fully off the grid, powered by solar panels and have onboard rainwater harvesting systems. An inbuilt AI system tracks the plastics being collected meaning it can operate without the need for an operator being present.

In total Rober and his Interceptor removed 37,824 lbs of plastic and trash. While Mr Beast and his 1,000 volunteers won, they are still a way off their 30 million pound target.

Three challenges, three approaches

However, a partnership with the Ocean Conservancy has guaranteed that for every dollar donated they will remove one pound of plastic and trash from the ocean.

They will do this in three ways, including the two approaches Mr Beast and Mark Rober used in their challenge.

To clean the ocean, the Ocean Conservancy will work with its Global Ghost Gear Initiative® to remove ghost gear (old fish equipment and nets) to grapple the gear to the surface where it can be hooked, removed and recycled where possible.

To clean the beaches, they will use a team volunteers and professional beach cleaners to remove the plastic waste by hand. Finally, to clean the rivers, the organisation plans to invest in more Interceptors that have removed over two million pounds of plastic and waste to date.

Will they do it?

Despite the ambitious target, the pair have overcome the odds before. In 2019, Mr Beast and Mark Rober launched #TeamTrees, a similar project but this time aimed at planting trees.

With a target of $7 million, they raised a staggering $20 million, and even managed to reach Tesla CEO Elon Musk who made a $1 million investment.

#TeamSeas has raised $18,148,578 which equates to over 18 million pounds of plastic waste and trash.

Whether #TeamSeas reaches its target or not, it will still have had an impact on driving awareness of the global plastic pollution challenge.

The next time someone says YouTubers and “influences” do not have a real job, remind them that some, albeit the minority, are helping to raise attention of some of our biggest environmental challenges.

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