Inspiration: YouTube sensations MrBeast and Mark Rober clean the ocean and plant trees

By Isabella Deza, Alliance Intern from George Mason University

Two YouTube superstars, MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) and Mark Rober, have joined together to use their massive platforms with more than 106 million and 23 million followers respectively to make a huge difference for the environment.

As PBS Newshour documents, the duo first began their mission in 2019 with Team Trees, a climate change initiative with a goal of planting 20 million trees. The campaign asked supporters to donate a dollar to plant a tree. They more than reached their goal in only a few months by the start of 2020, raising $20 million. Donations were given by other supportive Youtubers and individuals such as Elon Musk.

They then expanded their successful efforts to combat climate change with Team Seas. Its goal is to raise $30 million to remove 30 million pounds of plastics from our oceans, rivers and beaches. For every $1 donated, one less pound of trash will be in the ocean. The team met the goal in two months. It’s supporting nonprofits, including The Ocean Cleanup, which has created 8 “garbage-gobbling robots” Interceptor Originals that remove trash from the top layer of the seas.

While this is a good start, there’s belief that these are not adequate solutions since every year plastic enters our oceans at a rate of 17 billion pounds. However, Team Seas’ idea is placing the trash-eating robots at the worst offending rivers because 80% of the plastic flowing to the ocean comes from just 1% of the rivers. The Ocean Cleanup has reported it’s removed more than 3 million pounds of trash from different bodies of water to date.

Scientist and Youtuber Simon Clark has criticized the effort, according to PBS: “Team Seas is proposing to remove 13,600 tons of plastic every two years, I think it is.” He cynically points out that this amount of plastic is “added back to the ocean every 15 hours.” Instead, he believes that the only real solution is big policies and lobbying.

Rober counters the criticism, “But how do you get policy? You elect people who care about those issues,” and emphasizes that people need to be aware and engaged in order to vote. Rober and MrBeast use their platform to raise awareness and especially encourage younger people to take action in combating climate change. They show the power we can have by joining together and using social media to help achieve sustainability.

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