Live Chat with Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins
Recorded May 22, 2020
Marcus Eriksen is Chief Science Officer & Co-Founder of 5Gyres, an organization dedicated to empowering action against the global health crisis of plastic pollution through science, education, and adventure. He has led expeditions around the world to research plastic marine pollution, co-publishing the first global estimate and the discovery of plastic microbeads in the Great Lakes, which led to the federal Microbead-free Waters Act of 2015. He and his wife, Anna Cummins, began 5 Gyres with an 88-day journey from California to Hawaii on the Junk Raft, built from 15,000 plastic bottles. Earlier, Marcus had rafted the Mississippi River, writing about the river and his experience as a Marine in the 1991 Gulf War in the book, My River Home (Beacon 2008). His second book, Junk Raft: An ocean voyage and a rising tide of activism to fight plastic pollution (Beacon 2017) recalls the rise of the plastic pollution movement, growing steadily today. He received his Ph.D from USC.
Anna Cummins has over 25 years of experience in environmental non-profit work, education, writing, and campaign development. She has worked in marine conservation, coastal watershed management, sustainability education, and high school ecology instruction. Anna received her undergraduate in History from Stanford University, and her Masters in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute for International Studies. In 2001, Anna received a fellowship from the Sustainable Communities Leadership Program, to work with Santa Cruz based non-profit Save Our Shores, coordinating bilingual outreach education and community relations around marine conservation initiatives.
In 2007 Anna joined the Algalita Marine Research Foundation as education adviser, conducting school outreach and giving public presentations on plastic marine pollution. In 2008, Anna completed a month long, 4,000-mile research expedition studying plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre, during which her now husband Dr. Marcus Eriksen proposed. The two married during a 2,000 mile cycling/speaking tour from Vancouver to Mexico, giving talks about plastic pollution. In 2009, Anna and Marcus co-founded The 5 Gyres Institute, to eliminate plastic pollution in the world’s oceans through research, education, and community engagement.
In 2014, 5 Gyres published the first global estimate on macro and micro plastics in the world’s oceans, the culmination of over 40,000 miles of scientific research across all 5 subtropical gyres. In 2013, 5 Gyres published the first scientific paper on plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. These findings served as the basis of a successful campaign to eliminate plastic microbeads from personal care products, culminating in President Obama’s passing of the Microbeads Free Waters Act.
Anna was elected a fellow of the Wings World Quest in 2011, received a Golden Goody Award in 2013, and serves on the Advisory Network of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (HLP).