In June 1985, National Geographic published what is arguably its most well-known cover: “Afghan Girl” in which Steve McCurry took two shots of a 12-year-old girl in a refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan. The pictures were for the cover story of the June 1985 issue “Along Afghanistan’s War-torn Frontier”. In 2002, McCurry returned to Afghanistan in search of Afghan Girl. Along with discovering her name, Sharbat Gula, McCurry snapped another photo of her. Gula became the face of the most “arresting” cover National Geographic had ever published.
Thirty-three years later, National Geographic launched one of its most powerful initiatives: “Planet or Plastic?”, a multiyear initiative to reduce single-use plastics. The initiative was accompanied by a haunting cover—a plastic bag, like an iceberg, partially submerged in the water. Media claim “the bag resembles an iceberg, suggesting that the world’s plastic pollution is “just the tip of the iceberg.”
On May 16th, 2018, senior photo editor Vaughn Wallace, tweeted that the cover was “one for the ages.” The “Planet or Plastic?” cover, like “Afghan Girl”, highlights a detrimental problem society is facing—pollution. National Geographic announced that starting with the June issue, the global non-profit would be replacing the magazine’s plastic wrapper with paper, something that is long overdue.
But the initiative stems beyond just switching from plastic to paper and producing a captivating cover. Dr. V Kripa, the principal scientist of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), said that by 2050 the major oceans on earth will have more plastic than fish. The initiative is working towards educating the public on what happens to the plastic we throw out and raising awareness about the global plastic trash crisis.
The “Planet or Plastic?” multi-year initiative comes just as Ben Lecomte begins the Longest Swim campaign.
Tell us what you think about National Geographic’s June cover!
Latest posts by Lucia Nalbandian (see all)
- Captivating Covers: Planet or Plastic? - August 31, 2018
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