Fighting Ocean Plastic Pollution with 5 Gyres

5gyres-ocean-plastic-pollution-600Hi everyone! Sorry I’ve been so MIA recently, but I have great news! I’m the new Executive Director of the 5 Gyres Institute, a non-profit that’s been fighting ocean plastic pollution for nearly a decade. This is a cause that’s close to my heart.

And it’s a fascinating story! The founders, Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen, met in 2008 on a sailing expedition to the Great Pacific Gyre, a massive vortex fueled by oceanic currents that sweeps plastic from land and out of sight, shredding and concentrating it in the middle of the ocean.

They vowed to dedicate their lives to solving the problem, and to each other. After Marcus fashioned a ring from discarded fishing line that he pulled from the ocean, he and Anna got engaged on top of a floating garbage patch.

Yes, really.

Anna and Marcus with their daughter, Avani. How cute are they?

Anna and Marcus with their daughter, Avani. How cute are they?

Marcus and Anna launched 5 Gyres in 2009 with the simple goal of putting plastic pollution on the international agenda. Beginning in 2010, they completed a series of scientific firsts by researching plastic in all five subtropical gyres, as well as the Great Lakes and Antarctica. In 2014, they convened eight scientists around the world to publish the first global estimate of plastic pollution in our oceans: 5.25 trillion particles weighing in at 270,000 tons of “plastic smog” worldwide. Their paper on plastic microbead pollution in the Great Lakes inspired a two-year collaborative campaign that culminated in a federal ban on microbeads, which President Obama signed law in 2015.

This would make a good office. Right?

This would make a good office. Right?

I’m so honored to be working with Anna, Marcus and the amazing 5 Gyres team! As such, I won’t be posting for a while. If you want to catch up with me, check out 5 Gyres online!



  1. Sarah Pilkington says:

    Hi. Am on the web looking for ways inwhich my daughters and I can help with the plastic crisis on a day to day basis. Am in tears here looking at the awful pictures. Feel so useless.

  2. Thank you 5 Gyres and Rachel for your efforts! I’m sure we are all intimately aware of not only the awe inspiring beauty in the world, but also nature’s essential role in disease prevention. Do you think children would find Quests to collect garbage as fun? Do you have suggestions for making it fun? Perhaps, let’s be Eco Warriors or Elementals and save the dolphins and the birds? Thank you and my very best wishes.

  3. Congratulations Rachel! Love 5 Gyres and worked with Haley during her time at Surfrider SD. You’re a great addition to the 5Gyres team! -Ryan

  4. Congrats Rachel! I was wondering where you’ve been. Still doing good work for the planet – just somewhere else for a while. Best wishes!

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