What is a Gyre and Where Are the Five Gyres Located? How the 5 Gyres Institute Is Fighting Plastic Pollution

June 03, 2021 4 min read

What is a Gyre and Where Are the Five Gyres Located? How the 5 Gyres Institute Is Fighting Plastic Pollution

Jess and Cece. Pinky and the Brain. Scooby and Shaggy. Spongebob and Patrick. Holmes and Watson. Mickey and Minnie. Monica and Rachel.

Famous partners in crime, community, and cartoons, these duos are famous for their shared passions and friendships. Like these memorable teams, ChicoBag has a peanut butter to its jelly, a partner with the same vision (and excellent taste in snacks).

Meet The 5 Gyres Institute

A plastic pollution research and awareness organization, 5 Gyres has spent the last 11 years campaigning to keep plastic out of the world’s streams, waterways and oceans (sound familiar?)

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, they’re also special consultants with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Since June 8 is the United Nations World Oceans Day, we thought what better day than to introduce all of you to 5 Gyres and share a bit more about their work.

Let’s dive in. 🥽

First of all, what is a gyre (and how do you pronounce it?)

A gyre (“ji-er”) is a large system of rotating ocean currents, says theNational Ocean Service.

When the ocean churns up big currents like the Gulf Stream and there are several of these larger currents in a general area, the system becomes known as a gyre.

Collections of garbage and plastic floating around in the ocean often accumulate in these gyres after being trapped in the large currents--and it can take up toten yearsfor them to circulate out.

How many gyres are there in the world?

There are a total of eleven in the world, but there are five big ones that tend to accumulate plastic due to the nature of the wind and the waves.

Where are the five gyres?

The five gyres are located above and below the poles:

North Atlantic Gyre

South Atlantic Gyre

Indian Ocean Gyre

South Pacific Gyre

North Pacific Gyre

This1-minute video from Dr. Marcus Eriksen explains exactly where the 5 five gyres are located and why they collect trash.

What is the 5 Gyres Institute and what do they have to do with, well, the 5 gyres?

The team at 5 Gyres is all about raising awareness and bringing education to stop plastic pollution in the world’s 5 gyres...aka, throughout the whole ocean. Over the last decade or so, they've made nearly 20 scientific research expeditions into the oceans to learn more about the plastic programs in the water. And they don’t do it alone! They bring along celebrities, executives, community scientists, and brands (like ChicoBag!) on these trips to help them see firsthand what’s happening in the ocean--and what they’re doing to drive change.

They focus on what’s called “plastic smog.”

When big pieces of plastic, like plastic bags, are broken down by wind, waves, and sea critters, they eventually become so small they’re hard to see with the human eye. And this is when it becomes even more deadly--it’s a literal plastic soup off a menu everybody’s now eating from. Fish mistake these microplastics for food, causing grave injury, and then bigger fish eat them and even bigger fish eat them and the even bigger fish eat them...until eventually these microplastics are on our plates. Pass the salt?

How does ChicoBag partner with 5 Gyres Institute?

  1. As a 1% for the Planet member, ChicoBag donates 1% of profits from our rePETe and facewear lines to environmental organizations whose causes are in alignment with ours. 5 Gyres has been the recipient of this donation for several years.
  2. On top of that, our founder Andy Keller makes it a point to stay up to date with 5 Gyres’ findings. He even joined the team on one of their explorations in 2015!
  3. 5 Gyres Institute is also one of our custom clients, and they have some of our favorite designs of all time! Check out these sweetsnacktime bags, for example.

Why are they awesome partners?

5 Gyres Institute takes the same approach to plastic pollution as ChicoBag does: stop the problem before it starts. While they occasionally do plastic cleanups, as do we, their primary focus is to convince humanity to use less plastic. The fewer the plasticbags, cups, straws, microbeads, and bottles produced and used, the fewer of them can end up in our ocean.

Not to mention, the 5 Gyres team are seriously cool peeps. In 2009, they sailed from California to Hawaii for 88 days on a Junk Raft made of 15,000 plastic bottles and an old airplane fuselage to raise awareness and study plastic pollution. Talk about guts for glory. Watch highlights from the triphere.

Bonus fun fact:

2020, who needs you? 2021 kicks off theUN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.The next ten years will be all about getting international organizations and entities on board with new technologies, research, and programs to develop “the science we need for the ocean we want.”

With organizations like 5 Gyres at the helm, we’re steering into a new era of ocean preservation and hopefully, the elimination of plastic pollution.