Tourism

National Geographic unveils terrifying imagery of our ocean’s plastic problem

Ali Coulton

National Geographic has introduced a new, global commitment to tackling the horrifying amount of single-use plastic growing in the world’s oceans.

Planet or Plastic? is a multiyear initiative aimed at raising awareness of this challenge and reducing the amount of single-use plastic that enters in the world’s oceans.

Be warned, the following information is not for the faint-hearted but none the less should be considered essential reading.

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The organisation has released some shocking details about plastic consumption, in line with the new commitment, detailing how a tiny strip of land in the Pacific Ocean known as Henderson Island is now home to the highest concentration of debris in the world.

Source: National Geographic
Source: National Geographic

Researchers estimate the island is home to over 37 million pieces of trash.

“For every square meter you walk, on average you’ll find 672 pieces of trash,” National Geographic said on its website.

According to the organisation, the 20 most polluted rivers account for two-thirds of the total amount of plastic entering the ocean from rivers.

“Fifteen are in Asia, in areas with frequent heavy rainfall and dense coastal populations. Rivers in Asia are responsible for 86 per cent of input from rivers.”

Source: National Geographic
Source: National Geographic

Have a scroll through this interactive infograph for more information.

According to a release from National Geographic upon launching the campaign:

“Each year, 9 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean. Some estimates suggest this plastic could remain in marine environments for 450 years or longer, and the problem is only getting worse,”

“For 130 years, National Geographic has documented the stories of our planet, providing audiences around the world with a window into the earth’s breathtaking beauty as well as to the threats it faces,” said Gary E. Knell, CEO of National Geographic Partners.

“Through the Planet or Plastic? initiative, we will share the stories of this growing crisis, work to address it through the latest science and research, and educate audiences around the world about how to eliminate single-use plastics and prevent them from making their way into our oceans.”

The Planet or Plastic? initiative will also kick off with the following:

PLANET OR PLASTIC? PLEDGE: National Geographic will ask audiences around the world to take the Planet or Plastic? pledge a commitment to reduce their use of single-use plastic.

By taking the pledge, individuals will become part of a global community working together to stem the tide of single-use plastic polluting the ocean and will continue to receive information and tips to help them in their efforts.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION: The nonprofit National Geographic Society will embark on a journey to better document how plastic travels from source to sea and to fill critical knowledge gaps.

Starting with an initial expedition in 2019 to study the type and flow of plastic in a river system, National Geographic will provide science-based, actionable information to help local and national governments, NGOs, businesses and the public more effectively invest in and implement innovative solutions.

SKY COLLABORATION: Sky Media and National Geographic are to joining forces in the fight to eradicate the destructive impact of plastic litter in the world’s oceans.

National Geographic has committed $10 million to support the activities of Sky Ocean Ventures, an initiative launched by Sky Media to seek out investment opportunities in businesses that can help solve the ocean plastic crisis.

Bringing to bear National Geographic’s scientific expertise, grants and media reach, the collaboration will identify and champion projects and groundbreaking technologies designed to reduce plastic waste and its impact on oceans.

CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS: National Geographic will seek out and partner with a number of like-minded corporations and organizations that are committed to raising awareness about the enormity of the ocean plastic issue as well as to finding solutions.

For example, the North Face is partnering with National Geographic to introduce a limited Bottle Source Collection, featuring shirts made from recycled plastic bottles diverted from National Park waste streams.

INTERNAL COMMITMENT: Finally, National Geographic will be taking steps to reduce its own reliance on single-use plastics. Starting with the June issue and moving forward, those who subscribe to the U.S., U.K. and India editions of National Geographic magazine will receive their issues wrapped in paper instead of plastic.

This change will save more than 2.5 million single-use plastic bags every month. By the end of 2019, all global editions will be wrapped in paper instead of plastic. This is just one of many steps National Geographic is taking to reduce its own single-use plastic consumption.

Over the next month, National Geographic will initiate a third-party audit of its single-use plastic use and will develop a timeline and action plan to further minimize single-use plastics in the workplace.

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