NatGeo Helps ‘Activate’ Viewers

Actor Daren Criss helps workers in Manila sort plastic bottles and cans to be recycled. Image: Global Citizen/Ryan Gall

Last Week the six-part series Activate premiered on the National Geographic Channel as a partnership between consumer product giant P&G, Radical Media, Global Citizen, and National Geographic. As Fast & Co. explained, the series “features celebrities such as music producer Pharrell Williams, rapper Common, and actors Darren Criss and Uzo Aduba, and highlights the work of grassroots activists ending cash bail, eradicating plastic pollution, and more. The series, which takes viewers from the Philippines to Peru to Nigeria, is beautifully shot, and the activists are passionate and sincere. One aim of the project is to inspire others to do their part to end poverty and save the planet.”

Last night I (Miro) attended the premiere of Activate at National Geographic’s headquarters and was really taken by the stories of the communities where the partners were working to build better waste collection infrastructure. Five Asian countries (Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines) are dumping more plastic into the ocean than all other nations combined. But as the World Wildlife Fund’s Erin Simon explained, before we merely assign blame we have to remember that when some communities are struggling to feed and house themselves, asking them to prioritize waste collection without adequate resources is a big ask.

WWF’s Erin Simon and P&G’s Director of Sustainability Jack Mcaneny discuss the effort to help develop waste management infrastructure in developing countries.

Why This Matters: There are countless corporate/NGO initiatives that seek to bring solutions to critical global problems. However, this partnership with Global Citizen calls on every person to assess their platform and what they are able to do to advance important causes, like global sustainability. Additionally, compelling environmental storytelling is important to expand our national conversation around these issues. In fact, this concept is echoed in Variety’s recent piece Is Hollywood Doing Enough to Fight the Climate Crisis? where the effort by groups like NRDC to push Hollywood screenwriters and showrunners to bring more focus on climate change in popular entertainment is chronicled. If you haven’t checked out Activate yet, catch it on Sundays on National Geographic channel!

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