Art/Act: Award—Planet or Plastic?

Planet or Plastic? Yellow fish emerges from square and becomes a plastic bottle. National Geographic logo.

It’s complicated.

Plastics have revolutionized so much, yet our dependence on them has created a global waste crisis threatening humans and animals alike, and the ecosystems we all depend on.

In haunting images both beautiful and heartbreaking, the National Geographic “Planet or Plastic?” exhibition shows how we got here, and why we need to stop depending on single-use plastics—to protect our health and environment.

Exhibition was on view Oct. 8, 2021 - Mar. 4, 2022.

BANNER PHOTOGRAPH: Mandy Barker, Bird's Nest, 2018


Artists Mandy Barker, David Liittschwager, Randy Olson, and others look beyond plastic’s promise to the devastating effects of its permanence.

Virtually experience the full show below—including a video tour narrated by Vaughn Wallace and quick links to each section.

Haunting Art of Plastic Pollution

The Darker Side of Plastics

When Supply Exceeds Demand

Steps Towards a Cleaner Future


Meet Sea to Source—the largest women-led research expedition tracking the movement of plastic pollution down the Ganges.

Hear them speak

Read their report

Track debris yourself

Learn about microplastics


Ready to channel your passion into real change? Urge both industries and individuals to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle single-use plastics.

Stop top polluters

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Support shore cleanups

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