Plastic Pollution: A Social Justice Perspective

We live in a throw away era when we think that continued economic growth is possible and good despite our limited resources. We live in an era of cheap products designed to be thrown away after single usage and of expensive products designed to be replaced with new models after a year or so.

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5 Gyres looking for a dynamic Office Manager

5 Gyres is looking for a high energy, organized and passionate Office Manager. Job description below, and here


About 5 Gyres

Our Vision

A planet free of plastic pollution

Our Mission

To engage people in policy and design solutions to end the global health crisis of plastic pollution


Our 2015 Team Goals

§  Work as a Team to assist and inspire each other while reflecting our shared core values

§  Improve our skills in engaging and inspiring people outside of 5 Gyres to take measurable actions and track our progress

§  Execute an Microbeads action plan that is creative and engages significant numbers into action

§  Plan and create quality shareable video content to drive campaign effectiveness

§  Create a digital portal that engages people in multiple solutions

§  Drive product design solutions through NGO partnerships and the design community

§  Execute an Education Plan that engages students to participate in campaigns

§  Select our next major campain

Reports to Executive Director 

Office Manager Primary Objectives for 2015

  •     Review CRM system for donors and volunteers and propose and implement best system by Aug 1

·      Create a Volunteer engagement plan to get LA based volunteers more involved in 5G office and events

·      Obtain new office space by Oct 1

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for 2015

·      Financial Month End Closed by 5th of each month

·      Key Team Metrics distributed to Board and Key Advisors by 5th of each month

·      Minimum of 20 volunteer hours per month

Additional Responsibilities

·      Research and General Support for Executive Director

·      Accounting

·      Office Management

·      Database Management

·      Local Volunteer Management

·      Personnel & 501c3 Compliance

·      Project Management Software System

·      Manage Online Store and Fulfillment

·      Event Logistics and Management

Important Skills

·      2 years experience with Quickbooks

·      Experience with mission driven nonprofit campaigns

·      Ability to initiate and lead projects

·      Budgeting and Forecasting in Excel

·      Clear written communication skills

·      Demonstrated understanding of the issue, prior background in marine conservation a plus

·      Project Planning, tracking and analysis for continued improvement

·      Team Communication to Core Values

At 5GI, we not only seek to change the world but also to ensure that we bring on people who fit into our culture and embrace our core values.

Our Core Values

Be supportive and compassionate                         Execute with excellence

Be willing to fail                                                      Celebrate successes

Engage our community                                          Listen deeply

About 5 Gyres Institute

5GI was formed in 2007 with the mission of protecting our oceans and bodies from unnecessary plastic pollution.    What started as a passion project for Marcus Eriksen, Anna Cummins and Stiv Wilson, soon began to grow sea legs and has been effective in creating new scientific research, educational pieces and consumer action campaigns.   In the next 5 years, 5GI would like to expand its scope to educate many more consumers and launch bigger campaigns while activating citizen scientists around the globe.

In 2015, 5GI is focusing on Microbeads, little tiny plastic beads that we found in the Great Lakes.   It turns out that cosmetic companies slipped these beads into our facial scrubs while we weren’t looking.   Our goal is to educate 200,000 consumers so that we can improve 5GI campaign techniques for this and future campaigns. 

Salary and Benefits

Salary – Depends on Experience and Hours per month

10 days vacation accrued per year

Medical Insurance to be added in late 2015


The candidate must be located in Los Angeles

To Apply

Please send your resume and cover letter in PDF format to with “5GI OFFICE MANAGER” in the subject line.    Please do not include attached files or samples of work at this time.   


10 Reasons to Boot Nestle Water Bottling out of California

Lisa Kaas Boyle Attorney, Consultant, Writer

May 21st protesters delivered 515 thousand signatures on a petition to Nestle's headquarters in downtown Los Angeles telling Nestle to get out of town. Here are 10 good reasons why the nation's number one water bottler needs to go:

1. California is facing the 4th year of a record drought. With water reserves disappearing, the public faces mandatory 25% conservation restrictions on water usage. Why should Nestle be allowed to steal our water for its bottled water business? U.S. Forest Service officials say they are investigating "long-expired permits that Nestle has been using to pipe water out of national forests to use for bottled water."(Source: The Desert Sun)

2. Drinking water is a human right under California Law and our public right to drinking water must be the priority over corporate profiteering of our water supply.

3. Bottling water wastes water. It takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water (Pacific Institute)

4. Bottling water wastes Oil. Plastic is made from fossil fuels. If you fill a plastic bottle with liquid so that it is 25% full, that's roughly how much oil it took to make the bottle. For a single-use disposable item, that's a lot of waste. The production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil a year. As we suffer yet another oil spill off our Santa Barbara coast, threatening wildlife and our food chain, it is important to remember that plastic is the biggest oil spill into our environment everyday as plastic pollution. Plastic bottles are the number #3 item of the top ten items found, behind only plastic cigarette filters and plastic food containers around the globe on International Coastal Cleanup Day.

6. Obtaining the fossil fuels to make the plastic bottles through such methods as fracking wastes water and poisons our aquifers.

5. Most Plastic Bottles are not recycled. They either end up in landfills, leaching dangerous chemicals into the ground, or they enter our streets and environment as litter, much entering our waterways and contaminating our food chain when fish consume plastic.

7. The water bottled in plastic gets poisoned by the chemicals in the plastic.

8. Plastic pollution has entered our food chain and is poisoning us.

9. Instead of allowing corporate profiteers to steal our water, California must invest in our public water system to ensure clean safe drinking water and develop the availability of nonpotable grey water for non-drinking water purposes.

10. Turn on your tap and carry a reusable bottle for your health and the health of our planet.


For more information on Plastic Bottled Water see:

Tapped, a Documentary about the Bottled Water Business

WeTap, Supporting Public Access to Tap Water

5 Gyres, Fighting to Eliminate Plastic Pollution in our Oceans

Food & Water Watch, for all you need to know about safe drinking water


Bottled Water California Drought Fossil Fuels Fracking Grey Water Los Angeles Nestles Gas & Oil Oil Spills Plastic Plastic Bottles Plastic Pollution

5 things you need to know about "biodegradable" plastics loophole

...and why it could undermine international efforts to ban the bead

- By Blake Kopcho


Last week the California State Assembly passed California’s microbead ban, AB 888, with bipartisan support. Cosponsored by the 5 Gyres Institute, AB 888 would phase out plastic microbeads from consumer care products, stopping a major contributor of plastic pollution. This vital bill must now pass the State Senate before going to Governor Jerry Brown for his consideration.

Download the microbeads infographic

Download the microbeads infographic

With microbead bans popping up (and becoming law) in states all over the country, a federal ban in the works, and major multinational companies pledging to voluntarily remove plastic microbeads from their products, it appears that polluting microbeads are destined to go the way of the Dodo! If only it were that simple.

Legislation written by corporations create a truck-sized loophole allowing companies to replace traditional plastic microbeads with more plastic

Microbead bans have already passed in several states, including Maine, New Jersey and Colorado. These bills are based on model legislation from Illinois written by the consumer care products industry. By subtly tweaking the definition of a plastic microbead, the industry has created a truck-sized loophole allowing companies to replace traditional plastic microbeads, made of polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), with so called “biodegradable plastics”.

Below are the top 5 things you need to know about the biodegradable plastics loophole; what it means for microbead bans, your facewash, and the oceans.


1. “Biodegrading” shouldn’t take forever:

Microbead laws, like the one passed in Illinois, don't define biodegradable. On a long enough time scale, everything biodegrades. By not indicating over what time period a plastic particle is required to breakdown, the law paves the way for companies to legally justify using pretty much anything as a replacement product. The Illinois law also contains a highly technical definition of “plastic” that creates another loophole for the type of plastic found in cigarette filters (cellulose acetate).


2. There are no proven safe biodegradable plastics:

Currently, there is no “biodegradable” plastic that has been proven safe for the environment. Promising materials exist, such as PHAs (Polyhydroxy- alkanoates) which are broken down relatively quickly by bacteria in aquatic environments. But before we start flushing a new type of plastic microbead down the drain and into our waterways in staggering quantities, we need a clear understanding of what its impacts will be on the natural environment.


3. Corporations won’t adopt biodegradable products by themselves:

Major manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson, Proctor and Gamble, and Unilever have pledged to phase out PE microbeads from their facial scrubs, toothpastes and shampoos, but none has committed to switching to a truly degradable alternative. The bioplastics loophole would give companies free reign to develop blends of potentially dangerous plastics to use as a replacement- fundamentally undermining the intent of microbead bans.


4. The bioplastics loophole is abhorrent greenwashing:

By supporting microbead bans at the state and federal level, corporations appear as environmentally friendly- but in reality, corporations only support microbead bans that contain the biodegradable loophole, and are aggressively lobbying against comprehensive bans in states like New York, Minnesota and Connecticut.

Johnson & Johnson recently came out against microbeads bans, after pleadging support in 2013

Johnson & Johnson recently came out against microbeads bans, after pleadging support in 2013

5. AB 888 is the only way to ban ALL plastics from consumer care products in California:

Johnson & Johnson has publicly denounced the bill, calling it “overly restrictive”- code for “it won’t let us replace plastic with more plastic, so we oppose it”. That’s why 5 Gyres is working tirelessly to pass AB888. Because it’s prohibitively expensive for companies to ship different products to various states, a strong California microbead ban will ripple through the states and reduce plastic in our water throughout the nation.

Please help support the passing of microbead legislation in California!



5 reasons why ocean plastic recovery schemes are a terrible idea

5 reasons why ocean plastic recovery schemes are a terrible idea

As recent as 5 years ago the world still believed media-sensationalized images of mythical islands of trash or static garbage patches of plastic in the ocean. These myths spawned fanciful engineering solutions to go get it, like circular islands pulled by kites that scooped trash, or contraptions with 1km-wide booms that directed drifting plastic to a floating conveyor belt.  On the contrary, it is safe to say that just about all marine scientists that have been to sea understand that a techno-fix to grab trash from the ocean is an unrealistic solution.

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High school student takes on plastics and climate change

     Brendan Terry

     Brendan Terry

2015 SEA Change Expedition crew member Brendan Terry is a high school student making a big impact for our oceans. Read about his work below!

By Brendan Terry

Pollution is at the heart of the harmful changes we are seeing in our climate and our environment. Of all the forms of pollution, plastic pollution is the most permanent and irreparable. Plastics never degrade into anything less harmful than the oil that they are made from and (while C02 in our atmosphere can be reduced by planting trees) there are no efficient clean-up solutions for plastics in our oceans. Given this, the best solution is to adopt policies that prevent pollution in the first place. This is the strategy that California is taking to combat climate change.

My essay for LegiSchools (below) encourages proactive policies instead of band-aid remedies and also talks about the problem of misinformation that has clouded the public’s perception of climate change and sustainability. I make another proposal for the state government which I believe will have the greatest long-term impact on pollution. 


Sustainable Democracy


What you don’t know can hurt you.

While 97% of climate scientists concur that global warming is a threat to the future of humanity, the remaining 3% have sown scientifically unfounded widespread doubt among the public which has thwarted participation in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change deniers use fallacious arguments to suggest that the effect of human behavior on global temperatures is exaggerated or nonexistent. As a result of this sophistry, much of the population does not think twice about the climate and some even label climate activists as radicals. While the progressive governments of cities like Santa Monica and states like California are reducing emissions, change is created by the people from the ground up. Only with an enlightened populace will the transformations necessary for a sustainable future be realized.

The State of California is leading by example in the nation’s fight against climate change. Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-18-12 will reduce energy use, water waste, and greenhouse gas emissions by twenty percent by 2020, all while saving taxpayer dollars. (In his 2015 inaugural speech, he laid out an even more ambitious plan.) Consider that commercial buildings consume more than a third of the energy in California. The use of this energy, produced mostly by fossil fuels, in turn makes them the second largest greenhouse gas contributor. How can this problem be addressed? Part of the solution comes from small business, which is proudly supported by both Republicans and Democrats. Right now, small clean-energy businesses have enormous growth potential, especially given that Executive Order B-18-12 will provide opportunities for them because it requires new and renovated large government buildings to be LEED Silver certified and have zero net energy consumption by 2025.

The financial success of reducing energy use in government buildings can inspire similar changes in the private sector. As Governor Brown points out, California efficiency policies have kept per capita energy use stable for the past 30 years with no hindrance to economic growth. Such policies have saved households money, created 1.5 million new jobs and will advance the people of California toward carbon neutrality by curtailing emissions over the next decade. Clearly, sustainability and the economy can work hand-in-hand.

Brendan with Ben Allen, CA State Senator. Bren won a state competition for his essay on climate change and was flown to Sacramento

Brendan with Ben Allen, CA State Senator. Bren won a state competition for his essay on climate change and was flown to Sacramento

with CA Assembly Member Richard Bloom, Champion of 5 Gyres' microbeads bill 

with CA Assembly Member Richard Bloom, Champion of 5 Gyres' microbeads bill 

The community of Santa Monica has also been working for decades to be more sustainable. Santa Monicans use one-and-a-half million fewer gallons of water per day compared to 1990 and the city plans to stop importing water by 2020, thereby saving enormous amounts of energy and avoiding substantial greenhouse gas emissions. Locally-based environmental non- profits like Heal the Bay and 5 Gyres have spearheaded campaigns to reduce the energy- intensive production of plastic waste which ends up on our beaches and in our ocean.

With 5 Gyres, I have developed a policy proposal aimed at coffee chains that would virtually eliminate in-store waste by switching “for here” customers to store-provided ceramic and glass cups. I conducted a pilot study to support my proposal; after observing nearly 100 customers who finished their drinks inside a Santa Monica Starbucks, I found that 93% wastefully used disposable cups. Evidently, even Santa Monicans require further environmental education. When we have been educated on sustainability issues, we have mobilized and made changes, as was seen in 2011 when the city enacted a plastic bag ban.

Government officials and citizens who take action on California’s sustainability issues, like Governor Brown and Santa Monicans, understand the repercussions of climate change. Others, like the officials and citizens of water-wasting Montecito, do not; they continue to act in ways detrimental to our environment.

The most effective and long-lasting remedy for their folly is education through a government public outreach program analogous to the seat belt, motorcycle helmet and anti-smoking campaigns of the past. An unbiased, state-sponsored sustainability education campaign would give the citizenry comprehensive, scientifically sound information about the causes of climate change, how it affects all of us, and what each of us can do to help. It is time to turn to education to spark democratic change in environmental policies.

Knowledge is power...let’s put it in the hands of the people.