5 Gyres: Informing with Solutions

5 Gyres empowers action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, art, education, and adventure. It’s exactly the sort of organization that inspires us with hope while providing sound  and hard-won data. As we try to do our best against the blight of plastic, here’s a group we can support and FOLLOW (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Want the latest research? Their new Research Hub lets you access the best scientific studies that can drive solutions to plastic pollution. Easy to use, the Hub also showcases a series of Policy Briefs focusing on the worst types of plastic pollution and what we can do about them. 5

The media 5 Gyres shares can help us understand how hard people are working. A recent article they shared from MyGoodPlanet on microplastics really opened my eyes to more that I can be doing.

5-2“Even though the plastic pollution problem is a far bigger issue than we can yet fully understand and comprehend, there are several steps that each of us can take in order to reduce further plastic and particularly microplastic pollution. Firstly and foremost reduce and refuse plastic whenever it is possible, reuse and recycle as much as possible. To reduce microplastics in particular, avoid personal hygiene products that contain microbeads. However, one of the biggest creators of small plastic particles is synthetic fibres (any man made material), and as ironic (and sad) it might be, this also includes clothing made out of recycled plastic bottles. Dr. Mark Browne, an ecologist and postdoctoral fellow at the National Centre of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California, explains:

“every time a synthetic garment — one made of manmade rather than natural fibers — goes through the spin and rinse cycle in a washing machine, it sheds a large number of plastic fibers. Most washing machines don’t have filters to trap these miniscule microfibers, and neither do sewage plants that are responsible for removing contaminants. So every time the water drains from a washing machine, plastic filaments are swept through the sewers and eventually end up in the ocean.”

So while we all do our best, there is always more to learn and groups to support. One thing we can do is to inspire others with action. Join the world’s largest coastal cleanup day with 5 Gyres on September 15. (coincidentally that is also one of 5 Gyres Ambassadors, Zane Schweitzer, co-author of Blue Life Journal, birthday). More info here.

The Voice of Youth: Saving Our Oceans

india-plastic2We recently wrote about a group of middle schoolers in India who sent 20,000 plastic wrappers back to the manufacturer asking them to change the packaging to keep plastic out of the environment and the ocean.

That was a powerful story and one that solidly reinforces the premise behind the Blue Life Journal Curriculum (Grades 4-8) we created for teachers. (Available at no cost for the 2018-2019 school year) When young people are given a tool, like the Blue Life Journal for Kids, and engaging stories demonstrating hope, innovation, imagination, invention and connection as a solution path vs the enormous challenge of plastic – the future looks bright.

We recently read an article about an expedition partially sponsored by Starboard, Eat Less Plastic. This expedition which will sail to remote parts of the globe and sift small “microplastics” from the ocean will spend five months sailing the South Pacific. They will go to  areas that have never been tested for microplastics and other marine debris.

The mission is funded through Love The Sea, a Hawaii-based non-profit run by Campbell Farrell—himself an accomplished big-wave surfer as well as paddleboard racer. Originally from New Zealand.  The Ultimate Waterman, Starboard Dream Team athlete and co-author of the Blue Life Journal, Zane Schweitzer, is throwing his support behind the journey as one of its ambassadors. The message shared by expeditions of this type are loud and clear – we need to re-design plastic and stop the flow at the source, with manufacturing.Eat-Less-Plastic-An-Epic-4-month-Voyage-Across-The-Southern-Pacific-Ocean-2

When it comes to coastal cleanups Campbell Farrell, a surfer, ECO/Ocean advocate, Starboard Ambassador and businessman says that “beverage containers and straws get a lot of flak, but when you go and do a beach cleanup, every industry I can think of, whether it’s automotive, sporting, fashion, of toothbrushes, is showing up on the beaches every day. The entire world and every industry needs to stop and take a look at their consumption of plastics. It’s going to take big commercial players to step up.”

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Starboard’s Svein Rasmussen walks the talk – with gusto!

Manufacturers with philosophies like Starboard and their “Starboard Blue” commitment can lead the way. Leaders and those in the role of CEO, like Starboard’s Svein Rasmussen, are working hard to share the message. But there are endless more manufacturers who need to really HEAR the message. Sometimes it just takes the collective voice of youth – the future stewards of our planet. We are certain that when teachers share our Blue Life Curriculum with their students that the students will take up the cause through their optimism, idealism, hope for the future and fresh perspective.

Humans vs Microplastics: Expeditions and Heroes

zane-mangroveEvery day we can find our Ocean Advocate and “Blue Life” heroes and heroines sharing their passion and stories online. Sometimes their adventures and journeys seem so large and amazing that we might sit back in awe – and wonder, “What could I possibly do to make in difference in a problem so huge as micro-plastics in the ocean?” (Meet Blue Life Journal co-author Zane Schweitzer making a personal difference each day – featured image)

For example, in collaboration with Parley and supported by TOMRA recycling, the pioneering all-female crew of “eXXpedition North Pacific” recently set sail from Honolulu, Hawaii, on a scientific research mission led by award-winning British skipper, Parley collaborator and ocean advocate, Emily Penn. The voyage will investigate solutions to the devastating impacts of plastic and related toxic pollutants in the world’s oceans, and bring global awareness to three “unseens”: women in science; pollution in our oceans and bodies; and rises in disease, especially in young women. Exxxpedition-north-pacific4

Here’s another recent example from 5 Gyres, their 18th Expedition bringing citizen scientists (including Blue Life Journal co-author Zane Schweitzer) through Indonesia’s Corla Triangle from Bali to Komodo. They sampled microplastics and explored solutions to the problem of plastic pollution. Groups were lead by 5 Gyres Co-Founder and Research Director Marcus Eriksen and 5 Gyres Science Programs Director Carolynn Box.

Through their Asia Pacific Action Against Plastic Pollution program, 5 Gyres is collaborating with NGOs in Southeast Asia to highlight and scale zero-waste efforts in the region. Data collected on this Expedition will be incorporated into their global dataset of microplastics, used in the update of 5 Gyres’ Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution study.

That expedition exemplifies 5 Gyres’ “science to solutions” model, leading to a better understanding of the global scope and trends related to ocean plastic pollution. It will help us monitor the efficacy of upstream solutions over time. ( Learn more about the NIX 6 – what WE can do)

Upstream solutions – WE are the upstream. WE are the ones who can (one by one) turn off our personal “plastics into the ocean” tap. When the gushing stream of plastics into the water, land and air is so huge it might seems that turning off (or turning down) our own little tap is almost meaningless.

blj-new-bright-coverThis is absolutely NOT the case, and we all know it in our heart. We make a “blue life” choice and write about it in our Blue Life Journal. We share it on our social media, we talk about it in conversation with a friend, we turn down our tap.

More importantly, we connect with others who begin to do the same. We may not be on an expedition in Indonesia, we may not be measuring plastic across the oceans of the world – but we are leading change where it will matter most. Our personal habits and choices will turn off the taps where it is need most – UPSTREAM from the plastic garbage patches killing our oceans. (Get your Blue Life Journal and start today)

Never think your choices are less important – remember that collectively we created the problem as a human member of the plastics dilemma. Together, we are the ones who will solve it.

Our mantra we hope you adopt with us: ONE + TOGETHER = HOPE.