National Geographic has announced they will be joining in to help save the planet, whose beauty they have captured for decades, by taking action against plastic pollution. The magazine will no longer come in a plastic wrapper, and the organization is launching a multiyear campaign called “Planet or Plastic?” meant to encourage people to reduce their use of plastic disposables.

“Can it really be true that half the plastic ever made was produced in the past 15 years?” Editor in Chief Susan Goldberg wrote in an op-ed for National Geographic Magazine. “That a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, with an average ‘working life’ of just 15 minutes? That some nine million tons of plastic waste go into the oceans every year? And that estimates for how long plastic endures range from 450 years to forever?”


The statistics are staggering but, as Goldberg said, this crisis can be mitigated and members of the organization, from the National Geographic Society to the broadcast and publishing divisions of National Geographic Partners, are willing to do their part.

With the latest issue, the organization is starting a campaign aimed at educating consumers on the issues of plastic and what we can do about it. As a first step, the new issue for all subscribers in the U.S., UK, and India will come in a paper wrapper instead of the usual plastic one. According to Goldberg, this simple change alone will save more than 2.5 million single-use plastic bags every month. National Geographic has also challenged all its international partners who publish 36 local-language editions of the magazine to stop using the plastic wrappers as well by the end of 2019.

The cover of the June issue, created by Mexican artist Jorge Gamboa and shared on Twitter by senior photo editor Vaughn Wallace, is already going viral. “18 billion pounds of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” the caption reads.


The “Planet or Plastic?” campaign will run content across all the organization’s platforms to raise awareness and inspire everyone to action. Currently, National Geographic is asking people all around the world to join in and pledge to reduce their reliance on single-use plastic, hoping to create a new global community working to limit the amount of plastic entering the ocean. The organization has also joined the company Sky Media in supporting Sky Ocean Ventures, an initiative to invest in businesses that can help solve the ocean plastic crisis, and it plans to join other like-minded corporations and nongovernmental organizations as well.


National Geographic hopes to encourage change in others, but to do that successfully, they are starting at home – by hiring an environmental consulting firm to evaluate how their own operations and supply chain use plastic.

“Will eliminating a plastic magazine wrapper save the planet? Well, no. But it’s an example of the kind of relatively easy action that every company, every government, and every person can take. And when you put it together, that adds up to real change,” Goldberg concludes.

To find out what are some things you can change in your life to do your part and help the planet, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

Image source: Vaughn Wallace/Twitter