Consciousness Science Wellness

Rachel Sarnoff: Imagining (and Creating) a Plastic-Free World

Raising awareness and elucidating the intensification of the global health crisis of plastic pollution through a variety of artistic mediums, science and visuals, 5 Gyres is a conscious effort and project that is educating individuals worldwide of both the health crisis’ prevalence and the small proactive daily steps one can take toward creating environmental wellness while optimizing and conserving resources. I spoke with 5 Gyres Executive Director, Rachel Sarnoff, who is leading by example and aiding in creating solutions through environmental actions that are broadening the bigger picture for all. Check out the tips that we have come up with below and let us know what environmentally friendly actions that you have taken that have had a huge impact on both our planet’s wellbeing and the wellbeing of your home.

First and foremost, tell us about The 5 Gyres Institute and what our readers can do to actively participate.

Our focus at 5 Gyres is to stop plastic from getting into the ocean and endangering our health and that of other animals, as well. Currently, we’re focused on polystyrene, which is typically not recyclable and is extremely toxic to manufacture and dispose of. Readers can take the Nix the 6 pledge on our site to refuse single-use polystyrene.

What personal experiences led you toward acknowledgment of your desire to spearhead aiding in creating a plastic-free world?

I’ve worked in environmental health for more than a decade. When I began talking with 5 Gyres about joining the team two years ago, I realized that most of the toxic chemicals campaigns I had been working on in the past had one thing in common: plastic. Focusing on plastic made sense to me as an environmentalist, and also as someone who really cares about protecting a healthier world, especially for children.

Are there small, daily actions that you recommend that our readers (and myself) can take and remain mindful of that can collectively create a massive difference?

Absolutely! Single-use plastics are just habits, and those are easy to change. Start by assembling your own plastic-free kit: A reusable cup, fork, bag, and straw. These can all stack together and be kept in a bag or car. Then when you are in a situation where plastic is the only option, it will be easy to refuse it.

Who are some of your mentors that have aided in cultivating your current world? How has their influence led you toward shifting your life?

I was honored to interview Jane Goodall a few years ago, and we ended up talking about parenting. Connecting with people like Jane on a human level makes me realize that this type of heroism is accessible for all of us.

Give us examples of some of the successful solutions that you have witnessed fellow participants create that will shift awareness, accelerate the response and work toward combating the current reality of plastic pollution.

Microbeads are such a great example of this! When 5 Gyres first discovered plastic microbeads in the Great Lakes, the publication of that study started a movement that led to a federal ban, which went into effect this year. Because of our small team of (then) four people, these plastics are now illegal to manufacture with or import in the United States. Imagine what we can do if we apply that type of action to all the other unnecessary plastics–like single-use polystyrene–in our world.

Are there any daily wellness practices that you ensure to incorporate to maintain a sense of equilibrium throughout your life?

I practiced yoga for 25 years until a health problem forced me to give it up. But the components of breath and meditation still serve me daily.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?

How old am I?

Are there any brands/products that are taking the plastic-free route that you’d like to give a shout-out to for their conscious efforts?

We have a whole group of amazing manufacturers on our #PlasticFree Shopping Guide that is going above and beyond to help people reduce the amount of single-use plastic in their lives.

What is your idea of a life of happiness?

This life, and appreciating it always.

Rachel Sarnoff Social Links:

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5 Gyres Social Links:


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