Used plastic bottles and other items collected from the Ballona Creek. (Photo courtesy 5 Gyres Institute)

DOWNTOWN — The 5 Gyres Institute, the group leading legislation banning cosmetics containing tiny plastic beads, has launched an online video contest for those who want to experience a high seas “plastic garbage patch” firsthand.

One winner will be chosen to join 5 Gyre’s sailing expedition to study plastic pollution density in the north Atlantic Ocean this spring.

Used plastic bottles and other items found floating in the Ballona Creek. (Photo courtesy 5 Gyres Institute)

The expedition will traverse the northeast Atlantic and its north Atlantic and Viking Gyres.

A gyre is a vast ocean whirlpool where plastic pollution accumulates. The trip departs June 7, 2014 from Bermuda and ends June 29 in Iceland. To enter, contestants must submit a 30 to 45 second video describing why they should be chosen and what they’ll do with the knowledge learned from the expedition to solve plastic pollution in their community.

“The video doesn’t need to be fancy, just a quick and sincere appeal to gather online votes,” said Stiv Wilson, 5 Gyres’ policy director. “Whoever gets the most votes wins a spot on the expedition plus airfare to Bermuda and back from Iceland. That’s a prize worth $10,000.”

Not a pleasure cruise, the voyage is a “hard-core sailing adventure” aboard 5 Gyre’s partner vessel, the Sea Dragon, a working ship where crew will be expected to participate in every aspect of the expedition, Wilson noted. This will include participating in plastic research, ship navigation and handling, and sharing of all onboard duties such as cooking and cleaning. No sailing experience is required but participants must be able to swim at least 200 meters.

The Viking Gyre Crew Search Video Contest runs through April 22, Earth Day. Contestants, who must be 18 years of age or older and able to join the expedition on the given dates, may enter at

5 Gyres completed the first global survey of plastic marine pollution, finding evidence of plastic across all five subtropical gyres. Just this year, its research on microplastic exfoliating beads in facial scrubs and other cosmetics led to the introduction of legislation in New York and California to ban products containing the particles. These act as sponges for toxic pollutants and can be ingested by fish and other animals to enter the food chain.

A single cosmetic product can contain as many as 350,000 polyethylene or polypropylene microbeads. Responding to 5 Gyres, major cosmetic companies, including Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson, have pledged to phase out the use of the plastic microbeads from their products.

In 2011, 5 Gyres completed the first global survey of plastic marine pollution, finding evidence of plastic across all five subtropical “gyres,” oceanic current systems where plastic waste accumulates.

In addition to contaminating precious marine ecosystems, plastic waste threatens wildlife, and poses risks to human health as toxic chemicals from plastic enter the food chain we depend on. Utilizing scientific findings, 5 Gyres engages corporate partners, policymakers, and the general public to reduce plastic pollution by improving product design, recovery systems, and individual responsibility for plastic waste.




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