Everyone Is Applauding This National Geographic Cover

Published : 5/19/2018

National Geographic magazine has just launched an informative and shockingly revealing campaign called Planet or Plastic? and it is something that we all need to see and learn from.

Many of us are aware that there is far too much plastic in our environment. We all feel a little guilty when throwing yet another single-use plastic wrapping straight into the trash, knowing that we are contributing to a problem that is too vast for us to truly comprehend. But what if we were faced with the horrifying consequences of our plastic addiction?

That is one of the aims of the iconic magazine’s campaign as they seek to change the ways consumers use plastic. If consumers and other like-minded organisations are able to work together to bring about a change in mindset at a fundamental level, corporations will hopefully respond to public opinion and reduce the amount of plastic they use in their products.

These powerful and heartbreaking images vividly illustrate the damage that 9 million tonnes of plastic waste each year does to our environment and wildlife, and are the beginning of what will be a multi-year initiative to significantly reduce it.

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“The photographer freed this stork from a plastic bag at a landfill in Spain. One bag can kill more than once: Carcasses decay, but plastic lasts and can choke or trap again”

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“Under a bridge on a branch of the Buriganga River in Bangladesh, a family removes labels from plastic bottles, sorting green from clear ones to sell to a scrap dealer. Waste pickers here average around $100 a month”

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“The largest market for plastics today is packaging materials. That trash now accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste generated globally—most of it never gets recycled or incinerated”

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“Plastic bottles choke the Cibeles fountain, outside city hall in central Madrid. An art collective called Luzinterruptus filled this and two other Madrid fountains with 60,000 discarded bottles last fall as a way of calling attention to the environmental impact of disposable plastics”

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“An old plastic fishing net snares a loggerhead turtle in the Mediterranean off Spain. The turtle could stretch its neck above water to breathe but would have died had the photographer not freed it. “Ghost fishing” by derelict gear is a big threat to sea turtles”

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“On Okinawa, Japan, a hermit crab resorts to a plastic bottle cap to protect its soft abdomen. Beachgoers collect the shells the crabs normally use, and they leave trash behind”

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“To ride currents, seahorses clutch drifting seagrass or other natural debris. In the polluted waters off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, this seahorse latched onto a plastic cotton swab—“a photo I wish didn’t exist,” says photographer Justin Hofman”

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“Around the world, nearly a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute”

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“Some animals now live in a world of plastics—like these hyenas scavenging at a landfill in Harar, Ethiopia. They listen for garbage trucks and find much of their food in trash”

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“As of 2015, more than 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste had been generated. Around 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and 79 percent accumulated in landfills or environment”

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“Just after dawn in Kalyan, on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, trash pickers looking for plastics begin their daily rounds at the dump, joined by a flock of birds. In the distance, garbage trucks rolling in from the megacity traverse a garbage valley. The woman carrying the red cloth lives at the landfill”

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“After sheets of clear plastic trash have been washed in the Buriganga River, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Noorjahan spreads them out to dry, turning them regularly— while also tending to her son, Momo. The plastic will eventually be sold to a recycler. Less than a fifth of all plastic gets recycled globally”

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“Colored chips of plastic—collected, washed, and sorted by hand—dry on the banks of the Buriganga. About 120,000 people work in the informal recycling industry in and around Dhaka, where 18 million inhabitants generate some 11,000 tons of waste a day”

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“Recology’s largest San Francisco recycling plant handles 500 to 600 tons daily. One of the few plants in the U.S. that accept shopping bags, it has more than doubled the tonnage it recycles in the past 20 years”

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“Trucks full of plastic bottles pull into a recycling facility in Valenzuela, Philippines. The bottles were plucked from the streets of metropolitan Manila by waste pickers, who sell them to scrap dealers, who bring them here. The plastic bottles and caps will be shredded, sold up the recycling chain, and exported”

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China is the largest producer of plastic—it accounts for more than a quarter of the global total—much of it exported to the world

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