Planet Or Plastic? National Geographic’s Powerful Photos Highlight Plastic Epidemic


National Geographic June 2018 cover of a giant plastic bag. The caption says “18 billion pounds of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Entitled Planet or Plastic?, National Geographic recently launched a new campaign to help raise awareness about the 18 billion pounds of plastic that end up in the ocean every single year, and how this is literally destroying our beautiful planet and the human and animal life that live here.

Scientists and other researchers intend to lead the charge, and raise awareness about the dangers since this is always the first step that must be taken before positive change can occur.

The company are calling upon the common consumer to take make certain commitments to help, such as using a reusable drink water bottle, rather than plastic bottles, and shopping with a reusable bag as opposed to plastic bags.

Whilst the campaign itself is undeniably admirable, since we all do need to take responsibility for the wellbeing of our planet, I believe that the greatest threat we face are the companies and governments that encourage the use of these products, when biodegradable alternatives like hemp plastic are available to be explored.

According to CROW (Chemical Retrieval on the Web), these companies are the top 10 plastics and resins manufacturers from around the world;

Dow Chemical (Main headquarters in the United States)
Lyondell Basell (Main headquarters in the Netherlands)
Exxon Mobil (Main headquarters in the United States)
SABIC (Main headquarters in Saudi Arabia)
INEOS (Main headquarters in Switzerland)
BASF (Main headquarters in Germany)
ENI (Main headquarters in Italy)
LG Chem (Main headquarters in South Korea)
Chevron Phillips (Main headquarters in the United States)
Lanxess (Main headquarters in Germany)

Below you can find some shocking images from the June 2018 issue that help to illustrate this deadly epidemic.

“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”

Image credits: Jordi Chias/ National Geographic

“By 2050, virtually every seabird species on the planet will be eating plastic”


Image credits: Randy Olson/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: Brian Lehmann/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: Randy Olson/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: Randy Olson/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: RANDY OLSON

“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”


“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”

Image credits: Randy Olson/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: Randy Olson / National Geographic

Image credits: OHN JOHNSON

“Some 700 species of marine animals have been reported so far to have eaten or become entangled in plastic”

Image credits: David Jones/ National Geographic

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

Image credits: David Higgins/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: Justin Hofman/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: Shawn Miller

“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”

Image credits: Randy Olson/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: Jayed Hasen/ National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: Randy Olson / National Geographic

“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”

Image credits: John Cancalosi/ National Geographic



Watch the video below to learn more about the science of plastic

The chart below illustrates the growth of plastic use throughout the years


H/T Bored Panda & National Geographic

Written by Gavin Nascimento, Founder of

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Gavin Nascimento
My philosophy in life is very simple; "Do no harm but take no shit". My religion is kindness and integrity; my God is Truth, and my purpose is to help create positive change. I am here to help my readers improve themselves physically, mentally and spiritually, which is why I created
Gavin Nascimento