On March 18th, the body of a curvier beaked whale was retrieved from Davao Bay in the Philippines. The cause of death – starvation and dehydration as a result of ingesting ninety pounds of nylon rope, plastic bags, and other plastic objects found stuffed in the animal’s stomach!

A month later and a half a world away, a pregnant sperm whale was found dead off the coast of Sardinia. In this poor animal, marine biologist retrieved nearly fifty pounds of routine plastic products – fishing nets, fishing lines, flip flops and plastic bag, pipes, plates and drinking cups!

“These tragic stories are not isolated or freak occurrences but a series of troubling statistics that point towards growing global problem – our oceans are becoming clogged with plastic detritus and debris.” said Carlton Nettleton, Chief Product Owner at Applied Frameworks.  “Something needs to be done about this complex global problem because the status quo is untenable.  If we do nothing, and continue along our current (mis)use of plastic, the oceans are going to become a plastic soup.”

Since 1997, when the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was first discovered in the North Pacific gyre, our awareness of the amount of plastic clogging our oceans, and its impact to marine life, has grown.  Here are some data points meant to shock you about the severity of the problem:

  • 8,000,000 metric tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year, that is the equivalent of one dump truck stuffed full of plastic being dropped into the ocean every minute.

  • Today, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is nearly three times the size of Texas. In the last twenty years, four other garbage gyres have been discovered increasing the amount of the ocean’s surface covered with plastic trash equivalent to the land area of the continental United States.

  • Over 700 species of marine animals have been documented to consume ocean plastic – 90% of all sea birds, 50% of sea turtles and approximately 10% of whales and dolphins have all ingested plastic. If you have eaten seafood recently, chances are you ate plastic.

  • More then 50% of the plastic junk in the ocean today has been deposited there within the last twenty years. Yet, our efforts to recycle this garbage remains less than 10%. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!

“When Carlton shared the impact of this problem with me, I knew we had a unique opportunity to help others see what we were seeing.” said Jason Tanner, CEO of Applied Frameworks. “Over the course of the next three days at Scrum Gathering Austin, we are going to use our expertise with frameworks to help raise awareness of this problem, explore why we do not do more to resolve this challenge and inspire action. Based on the the guidance provided by the conference attendees, Applied Frameworks is going to make a charitable donation to a non-profit dedicated to helping clean-up the oceans.”

Come visit us at Booth #600 to learn more about this problem, share your perspective, commit to making a change in your use of plastic and inspire others to change their behaviors.  Each day, we will be exploring a different elements related to the problem of an ocean of plastic to gain deeper understanding of why this challenge is so hard to resolve.

  1. May 20th – What Lies Beneath: in order to understand any complex problem, it is important to explore the issue from a variety of perspectives. Help us go below the surface to identify the various factors which contribute to the accumulation of plastic trash in the ocean.

  2. May 21st – Pains-Gains Map: to devise a lasting fix to a complex problem requires a deep understanding of the aspirations and fears of the human actors. Take time to explore the lives of plastic consumers, i.e. ourselves, by identifying what benefits and pains we could experience if we use less single-use plastic.

  3. May 22nd – Buy A Feature: there are number of interesting proposals that address the plastic contamination of the oceans from the mundane, banning straws, to the high-tech, deploying autonomous garbage drones. Help us identify which of these solutions are most appealing to you, and we will make a charitable donation to help rescue the oceans.

If you cannot make it to Scrum Gathering Austin, we will be scheduling a few on-line forums to allow you the chance to participate in this project and help understand why this problem is not getting resolved.  In the meantime, learn more about this problem, recycle the existing plastic found in your home, think of ways to reduce your use of plastic and share your direct action.