Climate Action

National Geographic launches major campaign to fight single-use plastics

The National Geographic has launched a major new initiative to accelerate action on plastic waste.

  • 17 May 2018
  • Adam Wentworth

The National Geographic has launched a major new initiative to accelerate action on plastic waste.

The campaign will be launched across several years and cover both the organisation’s huge media presence and its original non-profit scientific institution.

In what the National Geographic is calling a “comprehensive approach”, it will promote plastic reduction and recycling in its own operations, among its global audience, and with corporate partners.

The new Planet or Plastic? pledge aims to raise awareness and action to “stem the tide of single-use plastic polluting the ocean.”

This means National Geographic will ask its readership and viewers to take up a commitment to reducing single-use plastics, documenting the immense damage it causes to the environment and marine life along the way.

Gary E. Knell, CEO of National Geographic Partners commented: “Each and every day, our explorers, researchers and photographers in the field witness first-hand the devastating impact of single-use plastic on our oceans, and the situation is becoming increasingly dire.”

Drawing on the expertise of the National Geographic Society, it will launch a scientific expedition, starting in 2019, to study how plastics act and flow in river systems. This could help inform action by local and national governments, as well as other non-profit organisations.

It will also take vital steps within its own business to lead by example, starting with the transition to using paper wrapping on subscriber magazines around the world, an initiative that could save an estimated 2.5 million plastic bags every month. Further steps and an action plan will be forthcoming once a full assessment of its total plastic consumption is undertaken.

On the corporate side, it also plans to seek out new partnerships to help advance conservation work, in addition to its existing collaboration with Sky Media.

“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,” Knell added.

Jonathan Baillie, the National Geographic Society’s chief scientist said: “A crisis of this enormity requires solutions at scale, and National Geographic is uniquely qualified to amass the best in research, technology, education and storytelling to effect meaningful change.”


Photo Credit: Noel Guevara/National Geographic