Conservation Spotlight: 5 Gyres

In this series of articles, we profile conservation organizations focused on ocean protection. Today we are chatting with Rachel Sarnoff at 5 Gyres.

In this series of articles, we spotlight conservation organizations that focus ocean protection and how you can get involved to help protect our oceans. Today we’re chatting with Rachel Sarnoff, executive director of 5 Gyres.

What does 5 Gyres do? 

5 Gyres relentlessly pursues a planet free of plastic pollution. Our goal is to use good science to drive programs that encourage better management of single-use plastics. Through hands-on citizen science programs like Trawlshare and Expedition, as well as scientific studies and publications, our research on plastic pollution can inspire change.

How and why did it start?

Husband-and-wife team Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins founded the organization nearly 10 years ago. Since then, we’ve researched plastic pollution in all of the world’s oceans and discovered plastic microbeads in the Great Lakes, which led to a federal ban on these pernicious plastics that went into effect this year.

How many people are involved and what are their roles?

There are nine on our immediate team, managing our science, education and advocacy programs. We also have a very active advisory board and board of directors.

What are the main actions and/or areas of focus?

Currently, we are working to eliminate polystyrene through our Nix the 6 campaign. Polystyrene is unnecessary, toxic, and the primary polluter of beaches worldwide.

We also have a Trawlshare program, with which we provide trawlers and protocols for citizen-scientists to collect data on marine pollution.

Finally, our education programs like Mi Mar/My Sea and our Ocean Heroes Boot Camp collaboration empower tomorrow’s leaders to create a single-use plastic free world.

How can people help?

Take the Nix the 6 Pledge to refuse single-use polystyrene, then check out our plastic-free shopping guide for products that can help you reduce the amount of single-use plastic in your life. Together, we can do this!