It’s hard to get your head around the story of plastic. The facts and figures are so staggering as to seem almost fantastical.
Can it really be true that half the plastic ever made was produced in the past 15 years? That a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year, with an average “working life” of just 15 minutes? That some nine million tons of plastic waste go into the oceans every year? And that estimates for how long plastic endures range from 450 years to forever?
The answer, unfortunately, is yes— those grim facts, and more, are all true. That’s why we asked writer Laura Parker and photographer Randy Olson to put this global crisis in perspective, in coverage published across our digital platforms and in our June print edition.