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National Geographic: You’re green. But could you be a little greener?

Posted By Beth Terry On April 8, 2008 @ 1:31 am In Letter Writing,Plastic Bags | 12 Comments

National Geographic publishes the Green Guide [1], a wonderful source for information on environmentally-friendly living. I’ve consulted the Green Guide often for information from PVC to PFCs. And National Geographic publishes articles on environmental issues, such as “Oceans Awash With Microscopic Plastic, Scientists Say [2]“.

So it was particularly disturbing for me to receive an email from Fake Plastic Fish reader Ashley Christenson yesterday telling me about the plastic “polybag” that the National Geographic magazine comes wrapped in. Ashley wrote a letter to National Geographic and gave me permission to reproduce it, as well as National Geographic’s response here:

March 17, 2008
Dear National Geographic,

I always enjoy receiving the National Geographic magazine in the mail. I find it informative and it has raised my awareness about many important issues. I was glad to see you report on the mass of high tech waste we produce and its effects on the world. One issue that I think needs more attention is our unending use of disposable plastic. Plastic bags can’t be recycled to make new plastic bags. We keep making more and more virgin plastic that eventually pollutes and does not biodegrade. Would you please consider going back to mailing your magazine in the brown paper cover? At least paper can be recycled into new paper and it does biodegrade. Every little bit

Ashley Christenson

Here is National Geographic’s response:

On Mar 18, 2008, at 4:17 AM, ngsforum@nationalgeographic.com wrote:

Thank you for contacting the National Geographic Society.

We appreciate your concern for the environment and our use of polybags (the plastic magazine wrappers). Because more states are allowing this material to be recycled, and because we have experienced problems with the paper wrappers, the polybags seem to be a possible option. The polyethylene wrappers are not unlike grocery bags in that they are recyclable if there is a local drop-off for doing so.

Our circulation staff is extremely interested in feedback such as yours, which I will pass along to them. Again, we appreciate the concern that prompted your e-mail.

Ashley followed up with a second letter, which has yet to be answered:

April 6, 2008
Dear National Geographic,

Thank you for responding to my email. I realize that recycling is available in some areas but the fact remains that recycling takes energy which creates more pollution. Plastic usually ends up in landfills or the ocean where it leaches chemicals and harms wildlife. I often receive unwrapped mail order catalogs in my mailbox and they are never wrinkled or water damaged so I don’t understand the benefit of wrapping your magazine. Please reconsider your options…sometimes less is better!
Ashley Christenson

Following Ashley’s lead, I sent my own letter to National Geographic this afternoon asking why they need any kind of cover to begin with, and noting the inconsistency of writing about the harmfulness of plastic in the environment while at the same time wrapping their magazine in unnecessary plastic.

Please send your own brief letter to National Geographic to ask them to stop wrapping their magazines in plastic. You can email: ngsforum@nationalgeographic.com

Or you can send a letter to one of these two addresses:

Customer Service Office
National Geographic Society
P.O. Box 63002
Tampa, FL 33663-3002

National Geographic Society
P.O. Box 98199
Washington D.C. 20090-8199
fax: 1-202-828-5460

The distribution director is named Michael Swarr.

It warms my fake plastic heart when I hear about folks writing letters, as well as follow-up letters, to companies to ask for the changes that we want to see. In a few days, or maybe next week, I’ll have an update on the Brita filter recycling campaign.

Article printed from My Plastic-free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com

URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/04/national-geographic-youre-green-but/

URLs in this post:

[1] Green Guide: http://www.thegreenguide.com

[2] Oceans Awash With Microscopic Plastic, Scientists Say: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/05/0506_040506_oceanplastic.html

[3] Image: https://plus.google.com/+BethTerry

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