Plastic and the Albatross

I have spent a couple of hours over the last week or two reading and viewing Chris Jordan’s video blog about his “Midway Journey.”  At, Chris shares photos and video clips as he journals his experience walking amid the decimation of young Albatross birds on the Midway Atoll.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Chris has some truly exceptional insight into the current state of waste on our planet.  I’m going to come right out say that this guy is a true visionary, a rare genius of visual communication.  Given that I am a teacher of visual arts, that statement is not to be taken lightly.  Chris has an ability to allow us to see realities about our world that we simply cannot (or chose not to) see.  Chris’ works encourages us to break down the barriers that exist in an age in which we are bombarded with statistics and factual information.  Chris has an exceptional ability to use a visual media to inspire change. 

The Midway Atoll is an oasis of sand, coral (and now plastic waste) in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest continent.  Chris’ new photographic work documents the decimation of thousands of baby Albatross birds that occurs each year on the Midway Atoll.  Chris explains that, “The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.”

Some may find the visuals that Chris has captured to be disturbing or disgusting.  Regardless, the images speak clearly – and very loudly – about the impact of our ways of life and mass consumption and waste.  Statistics and facts attempt to communicate that our human mass consumption is causing significant changes to our planet.  There is a plethora of information outlining that our ways of living are responsible for the destruction and extinction of exceeding species of life.  However, statistics and facts lack emotion and immediate connection to our reality.  This is where Chris’ work truly comes to life.  Chris’ images do what statistics and facts often cannot.  They make us feel our impact.  These images make these realities actually matter to us.  The message is extremely clear.