5 Gyres – Becoming #BEADFREE

July 13, 2016

It’s likely that you have already heard something about the negative impact microbeads are having on our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Whether you have or have not, here are some quick facts about microbeads worth knowing:

  • Microbeads are small plastic “exfoliants” found in face scrubs and toothpastes. They are designed to wash off your body and down the drain.
  • Microbeads are so small that they often end up passing through water treatment plants and into waterways like rivers and oceans.
  • The US banned microbeads–thanks to the activism of organizations like our partner 5 Gyres–but the ban doesn’t go into effect until 2018.

Every year between now and when the ban on microbeads goes into effect, the US alone will emit enough microbeads to wrap around the planet seven times.

An estimated eight billion microbeads per day are being emitted into aquatic habitats in the United States, which equals approximately 2.9 trillion per year! Microbeads that make it to the ocean get caught in currents and end up polluting oceans and killing aquatic life around the world.

Even though this is such a massive problem, there is hope because you are the solution. 5 Gyres has set up a great action kit for you to use to help make your life and your community #BEADFREE.

We want to send a big THANK YOU to 5 Gyres for all the amazing work you do and for helping people take action to create a #BEADFREE world.

##beadfree #1%ForThePlanet #5Gyres #microbeads #plastic #PLASTICOCEANPOLLUTION

You Can Help Study Microplastics Pollution

October 05, 2015

This is a guest post written by our friend Gregg Treinish, founder of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, a non-profit organization that mobilizes the outdoor community to gather and share scientific data that drives conservation around the world. The photo above was taken by Henry Worobec/Bridger Brigade.

On a sunny weekend in September, nearly 60 volunteers gathered on the banks of the Gallatin River in Montana to learn about an emerging pollutant that threatens their local river, as well as all the world’s waterways: microplastics. And they were there to do something about it.

Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) brought them together for the first in a series of water sampling missions targeted at better understanding the distribution and type of this pollution in the Gallatin watershed. Ultimately, we plan to use this information to reduce the amount of microplastics pollution entering the watershed. (You can learn more here.)

Draining from Yellowstone National Park, the Gallatin is the headwaters of the largest river system in the lower 48, the Missouri-Mississippi. So the data our volunteers gather will truly make a difference locally while also affecting global ecosystem health.

What are Microplastics? Classified as plastic particles smaller than 5mm in size, microplastics have been found in abundance in marine waters. Since early 2013, ASC ocean adventurers have gathered samples from the world’s most remote oceans (check out our sampling map here), and our scientist has found microplastic pollution in roughly 95% of them.

Very little is known about microplastics in freshwater, which is why we expanded our research to study rivers, lakes and streams this spring. We want to find the sources of the pollution, and turn off that faucet.

Why Microplastics Matter. The tiny plastics attract toxins including DDT and BPA, which then enter the food chain when the particles are ingested by aquatic life. The toxins magnify as they move from smaller plankton and filter feeders up to larger fish and animals.

How Do They Enter the Water? Maybe you’ve heard of microbeads—the plastic particles manufactured as scrubbing agents for many cosmetics, toothpastes and household cleaners. With several state bans on products containing them, most recently in California, they have been in the news. This is good progress; however, other sources of microplastics are more prolific.

As you might suspect, much of this pollution comes from the weathering of larger plastic debris like bags and bottles. It breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, but it never disappears, instead becoming an aquatic plastic fog. Perhaps the most surprising source is clothing. Every time you wash your clothes, hundreds or even thousands of plastic fibers shed from the synthetic pieces. They’re so small they wash right through the washing machine filters, through water treatment, and directly into the outflow. A fleece jacket can shed up to 1,900 microfibers per wash, according to a study by leading microplastics researcher Mark Browne.

Together We Can Make Change. This is a problem on the scale of climate change—and yet at this point, we know very little about it. Now is the time to act.

I founded ASC in 2011 with a dream of putting to work skilled outdoorsmen and women gathering data for conservation, and we’ve done just that, retrieving hard-to-obtain data from some of the most remote places on the planet for projects involving both wildlife and habitat health. Our work in microplastics has strengthened my convictions that together we truly can change the face of conservation. Already, we have more than 1,000 samples from geographically diverse locations. Soon, we will be able to use this information to leverage change. Join us. 

Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes the outdoor community to gather and share scientific data, driving conservation worldwide. Gregg Treinish is ASC’s founder and executive director.

Klean Voices: Swimming in the Bermuda Triangle and Talking Trash!

July 03, 2015

It’s been about a week since I returned from my life-changing trip through the Caribbean, and I’m still processing everything I saw and the fantastic people I met. My leg of the 5 Gyres expedition, which sailed from the Bahamas to Bermuda to study ocean plastics, was exceptional. The people who joined me on this journey were no less outstanding; musician and ocean ambassador Jack Johnson, Patagonia ambassadors Dan and Keith Malloy, along with Kimi Werner and The Legend Mark Cunningham, were all there for the ride. Together, we were joined by an incredible gathering of youth activists, nonprofit organizations and responsible brands such as ChicoBag and LUSH cosmetics, all of which came together to learn more about the issue of plastics in our ocean, share our passion for the ocean and discuss ways that we can share this important story with the world. We had a documentary film crew with us and a journalist aboard the ship, both of whom captured great footage and conversations along the way.

We sailed 850 nautical miles while sampling the water’s surface for plastics, and we didn’t pull up a single trawl that didn’t contain plastic fragments; as many as 700 pieces showed up in a single sample! None of this came as a surprise to me based on the information I have, yet this journey has moved me in ways that I never expected. I often give talks on plastic pollution, sharing the data provided to me by 5 Gyres. But this time, I was the student and not the teacher. I found myself often sitting in silence, watching and listening (not my usual demeanor if you know me at all), absorbing all the information and knowledge I could. Our days were filled with inspiring conversation and scientific research, and our nights with spontaneous jam sessions and laughter with newfound friends.

My trip also had land legs, and we were blessed to spend time on beautiful beaches and swim in the most crystal blue water I’ve ever seen. We spent time with local students on the beaches doing research and enjoyed the hospitality of the communities along the way, who are also very concerned about the issue of plastics and how it affects their islands.

So, what exactly did I learn while I was out there? Well, here’s my big takeaway… What you see is not what you get. The ocean and beaches look perfect at first glance. They are so inviting and appear so healthy. But time after time, with a closer look we saw the real damage and effect humans and our habits are having on the ecosystem. Sure, we saw some large pieces of plastic and things we recognized from our daily lives just floating about, but more often, we saw this confetti of sorts, a smog of plastic–both in the water and on the shore. What's more, this plastic confetti is too tiny to clean up with any machine or net, and too constantly flowing into our waters to ever really make a difference with clean-up efforts.

I don’t say these things to be a Debbie Downer or to make people feel there is no hope. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. This trip has left me inspired and hopeful. Our ocean will heal herself if we just give her a chance. We have to make a change in the way we live our lives and in the choices we make every day. We must shop smart. We have to refuse single-use items that live forever after we throw them “away." So, reuse and repurpose whenever you can. Teach what you learn and lead by example, and in doing so, we can all play a part in healing this BLUEtiful planet.

Klean Voice Contributor Caroleigh Pierce is the Nonprofit Outreach Manager at Klean Kanteen, and quite possibly the most naturally energetic human on the planet. Caroleigh is incredibly skilled at aligning Klean Kanteen with nonprofits that do incredible things, and her passion for fostering these relationships is simply beautiful. 


Klean Voices: Surfers Against Sewage's Big Spring Beach Clean Event

March 12, 2015

One of the organizations Klean Kanteen supports in Europe is Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). SAS is focused on the protection of the UK’s oceans, waves and beaches for all to access, use and enjoy safely and sustainably. SAS spends their efforts campaigning, volunteering, educating others on conservation and conducting scientific research. In 2014, SAS organized over 350 beach clean-ups, and with the help of more than 9,000 volunteers, they removed well over 50 tons of marine litter!

Established in 1990 by a group of passionate local surfers and beach-lovers in the picturesque north coast village of St. Agnes and Porthtowan, the organization swiftly created a national calling for improved water quality across the UK.

At this year's 25th anniversary Surfers Against Sewage Spring Beach Clean, they are calling for community volunteers to lead Big Spring Cleans at their favorite beaches over the weekend of the 27th – 29th of March. Set to be the biggest ever, the Big Spring Beach Clean 2015 aims to cover at least 150 beaches and mobilize up to 5,000 beach clean volunteers to remove tons of beach litter around the UK coastline. 

The SAS Big Spring Beach Clean weekend will inspire, encourage and deliver environmental awareness amongst volunteers across all of the UK. The marine and coastal environments are under increasing environmental pressure, not least from the growing marine litter epidemic.

Klean Voice contributor Henry Hoogenveen is a passionate advocate for the outdoors, and represents Klean Kanteen in Europe. As such, he shares events, information, trends and happenings from across the ocean right here on the Klean Blog. 

#BRINGYOUROWN #Events #kleanvoices #plastic

8 Reasons to Bring Your Own

October 24, 2014

If you've ever pondered the question -- "How much of an impact does my morning to-go cup of coffee really make?" -- you're not alone. It's a good inquiry, and we're happy that people are mindfully considering the impact of their actions. All of that said, we believe most people are still not aware of just how much waste our nation generates. That leads us to also believe that it's incredibly important to impart this knowledge on those in the world who can spread the numbers and encourage others to bring their own containers.

Here are eight reasons to bring your own wherever you go, based on eight sets of numbers that reflect accepted estimates based on waste stream reporting throughout advocacy and academic work. 

1. If we all stopped using to go cups, we would save 160 million paper cups every day.

2. Americans use 1,838 disposable cups every second.

3. The average American family throws away a car load of plastic every month.

4. The average American family throws away about 60 plastic water bottles a month.

5. The average American family throws away about 720 plastic water bottles a year.

6. The average American throws away about 170 plastic water bottles per year.

7. The average American throws away 4.5 pounds of trash per day.

8. Americans use more than 58 billion paper cups each year. That’s about 182 cups for every person in the country.