About 30 years ago, then-construction worker Chris Pallister discovered that some of the most remote shorelines in America were also the most polluted. The cause? Currents off the infamous North Pacific Gyre -- the site of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- propel a disproportionate amount of detrius towards Alaska's coasts.
To cleanup the Last Frontier, Pallister founded Gulf of Alaska Keeper, an organization that's been actively cleaning beaches in Prince William Sound and the Northern Gulf Coast since 2002. The nonprofit's five boats, seasonal crew of 12 and dozens of regular volunteers has removed an estimated 2.5 million pounds of marine debris (mostly plastic items) from more than 1,500 miles of coastline. Pallister knows that there needs to be an immense effort to stop this pollution at the source, but in the meantime, he says, "somebody has to keep this stuff cleaned up."