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By Isabelle Sui, 5 Gyres Summer Associate

After wrapping up 5 Gyres’ #BeadFree campaign, I had the pleasure of interviewing two different companies who participated in the microbead mailback contest we held: ChicoBag and Sierra Nevada. Each company took unique approaches in encouraging people to donate their microbead products and experienced success in different ways.

ChicoBag focused on engaging their online community in support of #BeadFree. After donating prizes to the 5 Gyres microbead mailback contest and learning more about the #BeadFree campaign, ChicoBag decided to help out further by hosting a microbead collection drive at their office. They posted on their Instagram, printed out some handouts, and created a Facebook event to inform their audience about the onsite donation box. They received a surprising amount of likes and comments, with people eager to participate. Some participants were not able to physically drop off their microbead products at the ChicoBag office, and sent their microbead products to directly to 5 Gyres. ChicoBag also encouraged their employees to participate in the collection drive.

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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. focused solely on employee engagement, and also found great success. After seeing our newsletter about the #BeadFree campaign, and how extensive 5 Gyres microbead campaign Action Kit was, Sierra Nevada saw an easy way to get their employees involved. They informed their staff through emails, decorated bulletin boards outside their cafeteria, and brought their microbead collection box to all their company meetings. This initiative resonated strongly with more employees than the norm. Particularly, employees who were also fishermen took part in donating their microbead products, because they directly saw how the effects of microbeads on marine life applied to them.

Both companies are also taking steps to further be #BeadFree. Sierra Nevada discovered that they used microbead soap in some of their workshops, and since then have switched to purchase a bead free soap. They plan on continuing this new, alternative product with future orders. ChicoBag is also taking steps to help make their community bead free. They have reached out to a couple local supermarkets to see if they will host a microbead collection drive, and are now working out the logistics.

Both companies regularly participate in many other environmental actions. ChicoBag frequently partners with other companies like Klean Kanteen for park clean ups, as well as their own initiatives such as allowing customers to bring in plastic bags and trade them in for a ChicoBag. Sierra Nevada also has their own environmentally friendly programs throughout their company. Each month they have an environmental education piece that focuses on topics like energy consumption, food waste, and water consumption.

5 Gyres is grateful for the support of companies like ChicoBag and Sierra Nevada in our programs. It is through companies like these that help bring us one step closer to achieving 5 Gyres vision of a planet free of plastic pollution.

#BEADFREE bulletin board outside the lunchroom at Sierra Nevada.

#BEADFREE bulletin board outside the lunchroom at Sierra Nevada.

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This article originally appeared on 5 Gyres.

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