5 Gyres

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The 5 Gyres Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that focuses on reducing plastics pollution[1] by focusing on primary research. Programs concentrate on science, education and adventure (research expeditions for citizen-scientists). Since 2017, 5 Gyres has been in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The organization's 2015 Expedition was featured in the 2017 documentary "Smog of the Sea," produced by Jack Johnson, who participated in the voyage.


5 Gyres was founded by Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen. Eriksen and Cummins have been featured speakers at universities[2] and in news stories.[3][4][5][6] Anna Cummins has also been awarded the Golden Goody Award, during a meeting of the Los Angeles chapter of the USNC for UN WOMEN First Annual Special Assembly.[7] Before founding 5 Gyres, Cummins and Eriksen had worked at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, with founder Charles J. Moore, who is currently a scientific advisor for 5 Gyres.[8]

5 Gyres was one of two organizations that sent Expeditions to research the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.[9][10] 5 Gyres presented their results at the Aquarium of the Pacific[11] and were cited as a source for estimating the size of the gyres.[12] 5 Gyres explained their activities at a National Aquarium radio broadcast,[13] were featured at the Two Oceans Aquarium website,[14] and prepared tips on how to reduce plastic consumption.[15] 5 Gyres also worked with environmental artist Marina DeBris in using trashion to help raise awareness of ocean trash.[16]

5 Gyres was the first organization to research plastic pollution in all five main subtropical gyres[17] and first to determine how much plastic is on the surface of the world's oceans: Nearly 270,000 metric tons and 5.25 trillion pieces. They published this research as the Global Estimate of Plastic Pollution in 2014,[18] which will update again in 2018. Historically, the group has presented traveling exhibits,[19] including stops at universities[20] and educational discussions;[21] in 2016 their education presentations[22] reached 3,000 students through the "Every Kid in a Park" program.

In 2012, 5 Gyres was first to discover that plastic microbeads (commonly found in personal care products like toothpaste and exfoliating soaps) were polluting our waterways.[23] 5 Gyres used that study to help forge a coalition that convinced companies like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and L'Oreal to phase out plastic microbeads. After only two years, the campaign scaled into a national movement, culminating in a watershed victory when President Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act into law at the end of 2015.[24]

This win underscored 5 Gyres' model of using science to drive solutions, and informed the organization's approach to raising awareness about polystyrene and Styrofoam plastic pollution through their 2017 #foamfree Action Campaign,[25] which:

  • Encourages a pledge to refuse single-use polystyrene and expanded polystyrene foam (better known as Styrofoam) products.
  • Connects visitors with local bans (or the resources to start one).
  • Gives them the ability to tweet, email or call their representatives for support.
  • Informs supporters about preemptive "ban on bans" developments.
  • Commissions the first-ever study to assess the toxicity of hard polystyrene plastic.

With more than 100 communities in California recently enacting polystyrene bans, and a statewide ban on the ballot for 2018, 5 Gyres sees polystyrene as a natural extension of the momentum that began with microbeads.


  1. ^ "Home". 5Gyres.org. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  2. ^ "The Perils of Plastic: Notes from the Oceans and the Great Lakes". Earth Week. SUNY Fredonia. Archived from the original on 2015-04-11. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  3. ^ Gray, Ronal. "Activists ride road, waves for ocean plight". San Diego Community News. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Plastic Trash in Oceans Enters Marine Food Chain". Voice of America. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  5. ^ "MIIS Alumna Discovers Second Ocean Garbage Patch Filled with Plastic Debris". news item from Monterey Institute of International Studies. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Trash found in fish". ABC News. 3 February 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  7. ^ James, Mitch (25 December 2012). "Golden Goody Award Presented To Anna Cummins At UN Women LA Event". Santa Monica Mirror. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  8. ^ "5 Gyres, Advisors and Staff". 5 Gyres. Archived from the original on 2013-04-02. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  9. ^ Hoare, Rose (22 May 2012). "Research ship finds the world's oceans are 'plasticized'". CNN. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  10. ^ "Investigators Analyze Plastic Soup in World's Five Oceanic Gyres". Environmental News Service. 1 February 2010. Archived from the original on 10 November 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  11. ^ "5 Gyres: Saving our Synthetic Seas". Aquarium of the Pacific. Archived from the original on 2013-02-08. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  12. ^ Boyle, Lisa Kaas (31 March 2012). "Kyra Sedgwick Leads Global Call to End Plastic Pollution at United Nations". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  13. ^ "January 1, 2013: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch". Blue View radio series. National Aquarium. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  14. ^ Marcus, Eriksen. "5 Gyres Q&A: Thinking about solutions". Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town, South Africa. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Goody Awards Launches Green Plastic-Free Holiday Campaign with 5 Gyres". Yahoo News, summarizing a PRWeb story. 2 December 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  16. ^ Novak, Brennan. "Marina Debris aka Garbage Girl rocks trash couture in Japan". 5 Gyres. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  17. ^ Eriksen, Marcus; Maximenko, Nikolai; Thiel, Martin; Cummins, Anna; Lattin, Gwen; Wilson, Stiv; Hafner, Jan; Zellers, Ann; Rifman, Samuel (2013-03-15). "Plastic pollution in the South Pacific subtropical gyre". Marine Pollution Bulletin. 68 (1): 71–76. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.12.021. PMID 23324543.
  18. ^ Eriksen, Marcus; Lebreton, Laurent C. M.; Carson, Henry S.; Thiel, Martin; Moore, Charles J.; Borerro, Jose C.; Galgani, Francois; Ryan, Peter G.; Reisser, Julia (2014-12-10). "Plastic Pollution in the World's Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea". PLOS ONE. 9 (12): e111913. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...9k1913E. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111913. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 4262196. PMID 25494041.
  19. ^ "5 Gyres: Plastic Pollution in the World's Oceans at the Santa Monica Public Library". City of Santa Monica. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  20. ^ "5 Gyres Bike Tour to Stop at UNCW". University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Archived from the original on 2016-06-16. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  21. ^ Lawrence, Stratton. "The 5 Gyres team travels to Chucktown to discuss the Great Pacific Garbage Patch". Charleston City Paper. Archived from the original on 11 August 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  22. ^ "Every Kid in a Park | Main". www.everykidinapark.gov. Archived from the original on 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  23. ^ Mason, Sherri A.; Kammin, Laura; Eriksen, Marcus; Aleid, Ghadah; Wilson, Stiv; Box, Carolyn; Williamson, Nick; Riley, Anjanette (2016-08-01). "Pelagic plastic pollution within the surface waters of Lake Michigan, USA". Journal of Great Lakes Research. 42 (4): 753–759. doi:10.1016/j.jglr.2016.05.009.
  24. ^ "Environmentalists applaud new law banning microbeads". Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  25. ^ "Styrofoam". 5Gyres.org. Retrieved 2017-07-05.

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