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Ep.5 Transcript: Message from Midway

Taoudella by Blue Dot Sessions

Chris Jordan
Midway. That to me is like a whole philosophy of life in one word. Midway between all of the mistakes that have ever been made and the still unwritten story of our future.

Welcome to the Plastisphere, the podcast on plastic, people and the planet. My name is Anja Krieger. In this episode, I’ll bring you a story from an island in the Pacific, thousands of miles away from land. It’s called Midway Island, and it has shaped our image of ocean plastics.

Almost a decade ago, photographer Chris Jordan travelled to Midway to document the effects of plastic pollution. His images of dead sea birds with plastic in their guts went viral around the world. They were quite hard to look at.

It’s the little chicks of albatross, the birds that nest on the island. Their bones are laid bare and their feathers are withering away. But the things they ingested are still very much intact: You can make out a red cigarette lighter, a blue bottlecap, and even an entire yellow toothbrush. In fact, these birds were full of plastic.

Chris Jordan was so haunted by this sight that he decided to go back. The photographer visited the island again and again. And he discovered a new, and beautiful side of the story. That’s what his documentary film Albatross is all about. It’s a message from Midway, and what it can teach us.
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Ep.5: Message from Midway

Chris Jordan has taken some of the most iconic pictures to shape our image of plastic pollution. He traveled to Midway Island on his quest to photograph the evasive “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, which is really a soup of microplastics. There, he documented albatross chicks who had died with their guts full of plastic. His images went viral, but they also haunted him so much that he decided to return to the island. In this episode of the podcast, Chris tells Anja how working on his film “Albatross” transformed him and his view on tackling plastic pollution.

Music: Dorian Roy and Blue Dot Sessions

Cover art: Maren von Stockhausen

Thanks to: Markus Knigge, Kim Gruetzmacher of the Berlin Ocean Dinner, Ines, Susie, Volkart, Sara, Craig, Wicki and James at the Sonic Soirée Berlin, and Christiane Schulzki-Haddouti for editing the German post on RiffReporter

>>>Transcript with links, images and tweets: Coming soon!

Best of 2018

In 2018, media attention on plastic pollution skyrocketed. The United Nations dedicated their Environment Day to #BeatPlasticPollution, and National Geographic magazine put the issue on the cover and launched the #PlanetOrPlastic campaign. Here are my picks from the huge amount of reporting this year – fresh and insightful articles, podcasts and fact-checks that truly stood out.


“How Plastic Is a Function of Colonialism”
By Max Liboiron in Teen Vogue
December 21, 2018

The plastic backlash: what’s behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference?
By Stephen Buranyi in the Guardian
November 13, 2018

Why the world’s recycling system stopped working
By Leslie Hook, John Reed, David Blood (data), Ryn Jirenuwat in Financial Times
October 25, 2018
Recommended by Johanna Romberg

Plasticphobia: Could the war on plastic have unintended consequences for the environment?
By Sarah Swadling (Producer) and Tom Heap (Host) on BBC4
October 24, 2018

American Beauties – How plastic bags came to rule our lives, and why we can’t quit them
By Rebecca Altman in Topic
August 2018

Disposable America and The First Straw
By Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic and 99% invisible with Roman Mars
June 21, 2018 / September 4, 2018
Recommended by Rebecca Altman

“Stop Talking Trash about Marine Litter – Debunking the Myths about Plastic Debris in our Ocean”
By the team at Grid Arendal
June 2018

Eight Million – A podcast series on China’s role in tackling the ocean plastics challenge
By Marcy Trent Long and team at Sustainable Asia
March-May, 2018


Plastikmüll: Für immer Dein [Plastic waste: Forever yours]
By Dirk Asendorpf, Fritz Habekuß, Paul Middelhoff, Robert Pausch, Mathias Peer und Petra Pinzler
April 18, 2018