Today, photographer @RandyOlson is taking over the @NatGeo Instagram feed as we launch Planet or Plastic? ( #PlanetorPlastic ), a multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic crisis. All day, Randy will be sharing photographs he made on assignment for National Geographic, documenting plastic waste around the globe.
Since October, I’ve spent months photographing plastic waste across the world. So what have I learned? Basically, since the line in the 1967 movie, The Graduate: "I’ve got one word for you son: Plastics.” … the world’s plastic product has skyrocketed. The planet produced 448 million tons of plastic in 2015 alone — just one year! As much as 6.3 billion tons in total now sits in landfills, in the ocean, or scattered across the landscape of multiple continents. More than 40% of plastics are used just once, and then tossed. In the photo above, a woman is dwarfed by a mountain of plastic. She lives at this landfill outside Mumbai, and starts her day gathering plastic while a long line of garbage trucks roll in from the mega-city. Every dumpsite I visited was full of plastic pickers. There is so much more plastic compared to other recyclable materials. #PlanetorPlastic
These images are part of a multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis. Learn what you can do to help. Take Your Pledge: natgeo.com/environment/plasticpledge