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.

Kick Plastic with Costa Sunglasses

August 12, 2015

If we are ever going to turn the tide on plastic ocean pollution, we must work together to advocate for change. No matter how big or small, we all have to adjust our habits and question our ways of daily doing and living. This is the message we wholly support in our own business model, and we're proud to see other companies taking the lead on reducing their own waste footprints, too. 


Costa Sunglasses recently launched its very own campaign called Kick Plastic, which aims to raise awareness of plastic ocean pollution, and to inspire change to help reduce it. As the campaign's site puts it: "Americans may be recycling more than ever before, but we're also making more trash than ever before. So even though we're getting better, our oceans continue to get worse—strangled by plastic bottles, bags and other trash. As fishermen, we're in a unique position to do something about it. The oceans are our backyard, our playground, and you can bet we'll be there to keep an eye on them." 

Take a few minutes today to watch the Kick Plastic short from Costa above, and to consider making a commitment right now to kicking your plastic habit and bringing your own bottle instead. Learn more about Costa's Kick Plastic Campaign here


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: Klean Kanteen On the Open Seas

June 01, 2015

“I’m about to sail through the Atlantic Ocean!” These are words I never, ever thought I would speak out loud. Soon I will be joining our partners at the 5 Gyres Institute on the second leg of their S.E.A. Change Expedition, sailing for approximately eight days from the Bahamas to Bermuda. I will be in good company on my leg of this trip, alongside musician Jack Johnson, documentary filmmaker Ian Cheney and several other change-makers from both the business and the nonprofit worlds. We're all hitting the pause button on our everyday lives and coming together to share our passion for the big blue ocean. 

This is the 16th research expedition for 5 Gyres, and is yet another effort to collect important scientific data on marine plastic pollution while inspiring leaders in conservation. Before we set sail, I will personally be participating in a three-day Youth Plastic Summit at the Island School in the Bahamas with both local and international students. Of course, we'll also be celebrating World Oceans Day on this amazing Island. I have no doubt that it's going to be awesome!

I have several goals for myself on this trip; I want to soak up all the knowledge possible about the issue of plastic debris in our ocean, build relationships with people who have a passion for taking care of the planet and its people and, of course: try not to throw up! I’m not going to pretend that I’m not a little nervous about the trip or the things I will leave behind. My family. I have a wonderful and supportive husband and four great children, and my first grandbaby is due while I’m out at sea. My Inbox. Since I’ve started working at Klean, I haven't ever unplugged for this long. I admit it: I have a tough time “checking out.” My comfort zone. I am a bit of a control freak and feel pretty confident and in control of most aspects of my life at home and at work. Somehow, I know I will have to give up all of these things to really make the most of this trip.

But, oh, all the things I will gain! Like the first stamp in my passport, my first sailing experience on the open water, an opportunity to observe and measure the problem first-hand alongside experts in the field and a pocketful of memories that will most likely change my life forever.

I am excited and hopeful for the knowledge I will gain and the information and voice I can bring back with me to share out with our community to inspire and create solutions. My job at Klean has taken me to places I never thought I’d go, and allowed me to meet people I never thought I would call my friends. I am truly blessed and inspired to be alive and present every day.

To learn more about the entire three legs of the expedition, our goals on this voyage and to support the work of 5 Gyres, please check out their website!

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. 


Thursday Getaway: The Story of Stuff

May 07, 2015

At this point in the week, we suspect you're in the mood to get out and enjoy the world outside of your computer screen, but it's Thursday, and you can't–yet. Don't despair! We've got just the thing to make you smile, daydream or draw inspiration from for your weekend, which is just around the corner.


This two-minute short film from The Story of Stuff Project shows us how microbeads make their way into our homes, as well as how these tiny plastic beads are designed to go down the drain and into our waterways. It also gives us a sense of what we can do to stop this useless trend in its tracks. While this week's video may not make you smile, it should inspire you to take action. The good news is, you can do so right now, right here:

#microbeads #PLASTICOCEANPOLLUTION #ThursdayGetaway

Thursday Getaway: Tattoos Spread Awareness of the Permanence of Marine Litter

April 30, 2015

Save Our Seas from Ryan Collerd on Vimeo.
At this point in the week, we suspect you're in the mood to get out and enjoy the world outside of your computer screen, but it's Thursday, and you can't -- yet. Don't despair! We've got just the thing to make you smile, daydream or draw inspiration from for your weekend, which is just around the corner.


The environmental non-profit Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), based in the United Kingdom, was looking for new ways to raise awareness about the permanence of plastic ocean pollution. In a partnership both brilliant and striking, they collaborated with an artist who's tool is a needle and whose medium is the skin: American tattoo artist Nick The Tailor. Nick's interest and skill in "traditional seafarer tattoos" is a beautiful fit for the hand-drawn tattoos he's created for SAS, which feature plastic pollution prominently. As he puts it,"I design my tattoos to last a lifetime. The permanence of marine litter is something that none of us wants to have to live with."


Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions Summit

February 25, 2015

The facts about plastic ocean pollution are disturbing; the most recent research says that 4.8 to 12.7 million tons of plastic makes its way from land into our oceans every single year. But with this new information comes a wave of solutions for combatting the problem, so we -- along with the youth participating in the Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions (POPS) Leadership Summit -- are focusing on that. 

This Friday, February, 27th, ninety students ranging in age from 11 to 18 will gather for this three-day intensive summit. The purpose of the summit is to "provide students with a real-life skill set to take out into the world," according to a POPs press release. It goes on to explain: "Workshops include hands-on scientific analysis of coastal seawater while aboard the Ocean Institute and Algalita research vessels. Students will have the chance to take their leadership and public speaking skills up a notch; and explore the use of art, filmmaking and social media as community engagement tools. 

The students will be in good hands for this conscious-raising effort. This year’s team of experts and workshop leaders includes: Beth Terry, author of “My Plastic Free Life”; New York Times best selling author, scientist and ocean conservation enthusiast, Dr. Wallace “J” Nichols; Executive Director and co-founder of 5-Gyres Institute, Anna Cummins; Youth eco-conscious-raising powerhouses Danni Washington and Jordan Howard; and of course Captain Charles Moore himself, who last year won the Peter Benchley Ocean “Hero of the Seas” Award, and whose best-selling book “Plastic Ocean” is bringing worldwide attention to the phenomenon."

We're excited to contribute to this movement of education and change by providing all participants at the summit with a plastic-free solution! Klean Kanteen stainless steel pints will be given to all event attendees for use during (and after) the summit. 

Want to know more? Learn about the summit and stay up to date with new information here