Approximately nine million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year—the equivalent of five plastic grocery bags stuffed with plastic trash on every foot of coastline around the world. Plastic pollution in the ocean has dire implications for all marine life as well as humans, indeed our entire planet. National Geographic Society is working to tackle this issue in the following ways.
Through our grants program, the National Geographic Society is investigating how plastic moves through watersheds and supporting solutions to keep plastics from ever reaching the ocean. We are also leading a river expedition to understand the types and pathways of plastic in a river system to provide science-based information that will engage citizens and help policymakers, businesses, and NGOs implement solutions to this growing crisis.
In partnership with Sky, we are supporting and highlighting solutions that dramatically reduce the destructive flow of plastic waste in our ocean. Through a series of innovation challenges, this partnership aims to champion projects and technologies that reduce the input and impacts of plastic waste. We will also support events with government and policy leaders as well as foundations, inspiring them to help solve the marine plastic pollution problem.
Today's students are tomorrow's decision makers. National Geographic Education offers resources for teachers to enrich students’ understanding of our global interconnectedness and how individual actions impact the planet. Materials are designed to empower students to make a difference and collaborate with others to solve problems. Use these existing classroom resources to teach about ocean plastics and check back for more coming later this year!
Beyond what we’ve incinerated or recycled, a staggering 5.5 billion tons remain, taking centuries, or more, to break down. Can we enjoy this miracle material and have a clean environment too?
Meet Heather Koldewey, a 2018 National Geographic Fellow supporting the NGS Ocean Plastics Initiative.
Planet or Plastic? is our multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis. Learn what you can do to reduce your own single-use plastics, and take your pledge.
Photos by Randy Olson and Shawn Miller appear in the June issue of National Geographic magazine and National Geographic's Planet or Plastic? campaign, a multi-year initiative aimed at raising awareness of the global plastic crisis and reducing the amount of single-use plastic that is polluting our world's oceans. Photo on furthering science by gregg treinish; photo on elevating education by ami vitale; Photo of heather koldewey is courtesy of heather koldewey.