National Geographic is the American magazine that positions itself as the magazine that gets the reader closer to the stories that matter. They have been true to this statement ever since the first photograph appeared on the cover in July 1959 seventy years after its founding in 1888. The cover featured the new 49 stars flag with Alaska profiled in several articles. In the course of its 126-year history, the magazine has published 1,465 covers.
This month’s National Geographic cover adds to the list of its most influential and inspirational covers ever, featuring a plastic bag in the shape of an iceberg. The photo was created by a Mexican artist Jorge Gamboa and features a plastic bag partially submerged into the ocean suggesting that the planet’s plastic waste problem is just the tip of the iceberg. According to an article on the cover in Mashable: “Gamboa had submitted the artwork, titled Iceberg Plástico, to Bolivia's Biennial of Poster in 2017, where it won first place in the political and social posters category”.
In February a sperm whale was found dead with 64 pounds of trash in its digestive system off the coast of Southeast Spain. The animal’s tragic death has prompted the European Environmental Association and the European Fund for Regional Development to launch a campaign against ocean waste. An estimated 19 billion pounds of plastic waste ends up in the world’s ocean. If swift action is not taken soon the scientists/researches predicted that the annual figure will double by 2025.
The National Geographic cover and the issue are both part of the magazine’s “Planet or Plastic?” campaign which aims to reduce the reliance of society on single-use plastics. As part of the initiative, the magazine changed its plastic wrappers to paper in the U.S., India and the United Kingdom. “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,” wrote editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg. “And when you put it together, that adds up to real change,” she added.
Picture on the cover: Jorge Gamboa/National Geographic