Fuerteventura, 25th of June 2020

Dear Sir,

I hope my letter reaches you in the best of moods.

The National Geographic magazine has always been one of the publications that I followed. Yes, it has been a compass for me. An instigator to experience nature up close, to respect and protect it. An institution for me, just like Surfers Journal.

Honestly, I’m stunned. I had to read that National Geographic collaborates with Nespresso. The project is called “Beyond the bean”. I’d better call it a “campaign”, the question is only for who or what? For a bigger picture, for nature, for the coffee farmer, for fair trade – for the whole truth behind the coffee business?

I was even more stunned when I saw your collaboration with Nestlé Pure life “Wild about Water”, promoting single-use plastic for kids. At the same time, you are campaigning against single-use plastic bottles, this seems like an obvious contradiction. Your segment Kids vs. Plastic is stating that “Plastic water bottles, straws, and bags might be part of your everyday life. But that single-use plastic doesn’t disappear when you’re done with it: Most ends up in the ocean, where it can entangle animals or make them sick…”

In the same statement, you encourage kids to take a pledge to reduce single-use plastic bottles. For me this doesn’t add up, acting as a spokesperson for a Nestlé campaign targeting kids as a focus group, meanwhile educating that same segment on how to reduce single-use plastic. What is the point in this? Planet or Plastic?

You can’t be unaware of the practices and goals of a global corporation like Nestlé, a company that several times has been implicated in unethical practices, always seeking profit over the health of people or the planet, sacrificing the environment for convenience.

It makes me angry to see an institution like National Geographic, again and again, fall into the trap being dragged through the ring by this big player. The fact that Nestlé is greenwashing the polluting truth isn’t a surprise, but that you, National Geographic, is taking part in this leaves me both disappointed and longing for answers.

So once again what is it going to be, Planet or Plastic? That is what I’d like you to tell me.


Wim Geirnaert