Anna Cummins has over 20 years of experience in environmental non-profit work including marine conservation, coastal watershed management, community relations and sustainability education. Her work focuses on the overall impact humans have on the environment, as well as the oceans and how they are a gateway in allowing debris to flow.

In 2008, she launched a month-long 4,000-mile research expedition studying plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre. This inspired her to start 5 Gyres, an international non-profit organization which focuses its attention on all five subtropical gyres, large systems of circulating ocean currents.

In 2010, Cummins gave a TEDx talk, “Synthetic Sea, Synthetic Me,” which has been viewed by thousands. In the talk, she discusses ocean pollution and offers a new outlook on the severity of plastic in our oceans.

A 5 Gyres-led campaign to eliminate plastic microbead pollution in oceans resulted in a federal ban, which President Obama signed into law in 2015.

Anna received her undergraduate degree in History from Stanford University, and her Master’s in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey.

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Hometown: Santa Monica, CA

Education: M.A. in International Environmental Policy

Occupation: Environmental educator

Expeditions: Completed the first global survey of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, across the North Pacific, North Atlantic, South Pacific, South Atlantic, and Indian Ocean gyres

Favorite Place to Be: A lush, coastal redwood forest, the ocean in sight, and my husband by my side

Accomplishments: Founding the 5 Gyres Institute, with Dr. Marcus Eriksen, to study plastic pollution in the world’s 5 subtropical gyres 

Favorite Items in the Field: UGG boots, cycling arm warmers, documentaries, books, and my mother’s chocolate biscotti 

Personal Heroes: Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai, Vandana Shiva, and the millions of unsung heroes working every day to protect our planet

Hobbies: Cooking, hiking, cycling, playing tango violin, traveling with a purpose, organizing big dinner parties for friends, time with my family


Advice: Enjoy every moment with your loved ones – our time together is fleeting. 


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