Sifting Plastic Soup
It can make you feel old. A touch trivial too.
Dutch 20-yr old Boyan Slat set out to change the world.
Save the oceans and us from the suffocation of floating plastic soup.
Determined to act on what everyone said was impossible, he wanted to rid the seas of the eternal garbage patch. Caused by the rotating gyres, huge swathes of waves rippled to the deathly dance of manufactured smog courtesy of our discarded goods.
A few years in, I suspect the youngster has learned at least two key things.
One is that there are two types of people. Those that tell you why something cannot be done. And those that urge you to go for it. Sadly the former vastly outnumber the latter. And are defeaningly louder too.
Second, even when you do act, there are those that, whilst claiming to be behind you, do their utmost to undermine you. Shouting from the sidelines that an alternative is better. As your current ways are full of holes. As if surpassing the enormity of that primary hurdle to get cracking is not difficult enough, once running you face ridicule wrapped in the asphyxiating foil of folly.
Exactly how tricky is that very first start? From the innovator himself;
“It was so disheartening, because no-one was interested. I remember one day contacting 300 companies for sponsorship – only one replied, and that, too, resulted in a dead end.”
Whoa. A solitary response. A third of one percent. Even lower than the expected blind mailer returns (which would supposedly have garnered five replies).
$80k crowdfunding got secured later. Across just 15 days. After his TedX talk thankfully went viral. Generating daily receipt of 1,500 encouraging emails.
Next time you face a new product splurge, think on this tale.
Even saving the planet takes time. Even offering something that most you seek would love to be involved with does not close on initial contact. As reflected;
“I wasn’t sure it would succeed, but considering the size of the problem it was important to at least try.”