Environment: do you want to sail the Ocean Blue with Jack Johnson and learn about plastic pollution?

Video contest will award winner with a spot on a six-day Atlantic research voyage

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Oceans or garbage dumps?
The winner of the 5 Gyres video contest will join the crew of the Mystic on a scientific sailing expedition. Photo courtesy % Gyres.
The winner of the 5 Gyres video contest will join the crew of the Mystic on a scientific sailing expedition. Photo courtesy 5 Gyres.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A short video about local solutions to ocean plastic pollution could put you aboard a six-day scientific sailing expedition aimed at learning more about the North Atlantic Gyre, where huge amounts of waste spin in a giant lazy ocean eddy — to the detriment of the ocean environment.

The contest is sponsored by the 5 Gyres Institute, named for the five major ocean circulations that trap garbage and debris. In some areas, rafts of floating garbage have enabled invasive bacteria to get a foothold in the ocean environment. Scientists have known about the problem for a long time, and they also know it’s getting worse.

The 5 Gyres Institute is a leader in global plastic pollution research and has launched the online contest to raise awareness about the issue for people who  want to learn first-hand about the problem and help drive solutions.

The winner will join the final leg of 5 Gyre’s June research expedition aboard the Mystic, a 167-foot schooner, to sail for six days from Bermuda to New York — and will get a chance to meet singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, who has taken a personal interest in the issue. The context is open through May 11, enter here.

Contestants will be asked to submit a short video describing what they’ll do after the trip to solve plastic pollution locally.

Johnson will take part in Leg #2 of the S.E.A Change Expedition (named for organizers’ desire to “see” positive change) and a 5 Gyres youth summit in the Bahamas to explore plastic pollution solutions.

“As someone who loves and lives in the ocean, I couldn’t be more excited to be participating in 5 Gyres’ S.E.A. Change Expedition and youth summit,” Johnson said. “I look forward to learning alongside the students, while helping to raise awareness of the importance of reducing our dependency on single-use plastics.”

Paid crew seats are still available on the S.E.A. Change Expedition. The #1 and #2 Legs of the expedition run June 2-4 from Miami, Florida to the Bahamas, and June 8-14 from the Bahamas to Bermuda, respectively. Expedition details here.

The expedition is a working adventure, not a pleasure cruise. All crew will have the opportunity to participate in every aspect of the voyage, from ship navigation and handling to daily research efforts to document plastic pollution floating on the ocean’s surface. Expedition contestants must be at least 18.

No sailing experience is required, but the ability to work with a team and interest in leveraging the experience to drive solutions and awareness is a must. 5 Gyres recently published the first global estimate of all sizes of floating plastic pollution, finding more than five trillion particles present throughout the world’s oceans.

Plastic pollution is taking a toll on endangered species and  building up in deep ocean sediments. According to recent research, it’s even getting inside crabs via their gills.

In one of the most extensive studies, UCLA scientists exposed what they called the utter “global mismanagement of waste,” and estimated as much as 20 million tons of plastic garbage may be reaching the ocean each year.

The report also offered a top-10 list of proposed actions, including a new international treaty with strong monitoring and enforcement mechanisms; domestic and local regulatory actions, such as bans of the most common and damaging types of plastic litter; extended producer-responsibility programs; and the creation of an “ocean friendly” certification program for plastic products.

The nonprofit 5 Gyres Institute now likens the problem to widespread undersea smog, rather than well-defined garbage patches, and focuses on product design and policy solutions.

Expedition Partners: ACURE Organics, All Good, Bureo Skateboards, Indosole, Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Klean Kanteen, Marley Coffee, Mission 2.Ocean, Osprey Packs, PlusFoam, Rainbow Light Nutrition and Zeal.

About The 5 Gyres Institute: The 5 Gyres Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging people in design and policy solutions to end the global health threat of plastic pollution. Utilizing research-based scientific findings, 5 Gyres engages corporate partners, policymakers and the general public to reduce plastic pollution by improving product design and recovery systems and by highlighting individual responsibility for plastic waste.

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