National Geographic, Stop Mailing Magazines in Plastic!

This petition made change with 265 supporters!

National Geographic is one of the top circulating magazines in the US with around 42 million magazines mailed annually--each and every issue wrapped in plastic.

As is well known and well chronicled, even within National Geographic's own magazine, plastic bags are exceedingly damaging to the environment, both during production and afterwards.  Humans and animals alike are affected by plastic bag pollution, whether in the form of blocked sewage systems or the death of thousands of marine animals. It's no wonder the state of California  and several countries have banned plastic shopping bags. This is failing to mention that plastic bags for magazines serve no legitimate purpose that cannot be performed as well by the old-fashioned paper casing.

This "environmental" magazine has published dozens of articles on the hazards of plastic bags--there is no room for this level of hypocrisy in our country's 8th largest circulating magazine. So let's encourage them to set a precedent and to stop mailing their publication in plastic bags. 


Here is the letter you will be signing:

Dear Ms. Goldberg and National Geographic,

Many avid readers of your magazine cringe while unwrapping yet another plastic bag from around your beautiful publication. If the 2015 statistic by the Washington Post is still somewhat accurate, your magazine reaches roughly 3.5 million US subscribers per year, (or 42 million magazines mailed annually). That's a lot of plastic bags.

The Polybags you use, made of polyethylene #4 is a common plastic, recyclable with grocery bags made of the same or similar (#2) material. But, according to the National Geographic article titled "A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn't Recycled"-well, you get the gist.

Those producing this magazine must already know the facts-National Geographic itself has published dozens of articles on the topic. Some of the most recent include:

"Ocean Life Eats Tons of Plastic-Here's Why That Matters" (8/16/2017)
"Plastic Garbage Patch Bigger Than Mexico Found in Pacific" (7/25/2017)
"Plastic Pollution, Fish: It All Smells the Same to a Seabird" (2/17/2018)
"Plastic-Bag Bans Gaining Momentum around the World" (4/4/2008)
"Are Plastic Grocery Bags Sacking the Environment?" (9/2/2003) (Older but relevant)

Furthermore, the National Geographic Society Grants Program has sent out Requests for Proposals titled "Perils of Plastic" and "Reducing Marine Plastic Pollution." The first two sentences in the latter RFP states "Recent estimates predict that by 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish by weight. The goal of this RFP is to reduce plastic pollution before it reaches the ocean."

Most readers, myself included, do not intend to submit a proposal for a grant, but we do know that your magazine could set a precedent (not to mention walk the talk) by reducing its contribution to the problem heavily chronicled within its own pages. NatGeo is in the top ten most circulated magazines in the US, so why not lead from the front? Please, stop wrapping your magazines in plastic.

I understand the paper wrapping used historically by National Geographic were problematic, but I don't find this a worthy excuse. In a time when humanity can grow body parts with 3-D printers, employ one woman in space for 665 days, and develop cancer-fighting immunotherapies (to take three examples from your March 2018 issue), surely we can find a way to mail magazines without plastic bags. Perhaps a RFP would produce your solution!

I appreciate your time and consideration, and I look forward to the day when I receive my favorite publication by mail, plastic free.


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