Chris Jordan’s Midway Journey


Early into my trash blogging career, people started to send me links to photographer Chris Jordan‘s work, which over the years I have turned over into several posts. This latest link (thanks, Chelsea!) is a talk by the artist himself, describing how he strives to help the viewer visualize incomprehensibly large numbers, and to “make global issues personal.” Check out what he has to say about his work and what a replica of Van Gogh’s Starry Night made of 50,000+ discarded cigarette lighters has to do with the Pacific Gyre. It’s a frightening tale of the consequences of plastic. As Jordan puts it, “This is the Earth’s alarm system going off…”


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4 Responses to “Chris Jordan’s Midway Journey”

  1. Mary Jane Wise Says:

    A very practical and gentle man…Bravo for you.

  2. Linda Parsons Says:

    Americans alone use and throw out 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour or over sixty million every single day. Six to ten million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, choking the life out of sea creatures. Millions of seabirds are dying from ingesting this plastic. In the Pacific Ocean, the great Pacific garbage gyre is now a permanent whirlpool of plastic garbage bigger than Texas leaking toxins into the food chain. The unnecessary use of disposable plastic also adds to greenhouse gasses. There are many efforts going on to reduce plastic garbage.

    One man has a simple idea that he thinks might make a big difference—a simple pledge that he hopes millions of people will take to refuse to use three things: Plastic water bottles, plastic straws and plastic shopping bags.

    The idea came to John Izzo, a business advisor and author, while writing his sixth book, Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything. He interviewed scores of people who had stepped up to create change including three women who tackled female poverty in Uganda to a group of ecologists and journalists who confronted the Russian whaling fleet leading to a ban on commercial whaling. “Here I was interviewing all these people who had stepped up to create change which got me thinking about what I could do about this plastic issue.”

    But the tipping point came when Izzo watched the trailer for the forthcoming documentary, Midway Journey, a Chris Jordan film about thousands of albatross dying from ingesting plastic on Midway Island several thousand miles from any continent. “I was horrified as I watched the devastation. As I watched these newborn birds dying from eating plastic garbage I kept thinking there must be a simple way that the average person can do something and get engaged on this issue.”

    Though Izzo admired people like Beth Terry, founder of whom he had written about in Stepping Up, he felt that going totally plastic free would be too much for most people as a starting point. “That is when I thought of the idea of this three part pledge, these three items that we use on a daily basis in the developed world that could easily be eliminated. First, I took the pledge myself and found that with a few metal water bottles, some cloth bags kept in my car and deciding not to use straws, I could easily make this change.”

    Izzo funded the development of which tracks the number of people who have taken the pledge, educates people about the issue of plastic garbage, and links people to other organizations that are tackling the issue. The site was launched on March 5th and he has already been joined by organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Beth Terry and the makers of the Midway film in promoting the pledge.

    “In my book I try to counter the idea that one person can’t make a difference. One reason we think that one person doesn’t matter is because we forget the power of aggregate influence, which is what happens when one times many take a small action thereby making a huge difference,” Izzo says.

    Izzo’s goal is ambitious—to get one million to take the pledge in 2012 and one hundred million by the end of 2013. “The hope is that entire schools, families and workplaces will choose to take the simple pledge. Even if people aren’t 100% pure, even if they reduce their use of these three products by 90% we can eliminate 170 billion pieces of plastic garbage every single year!”

    We would love your support to help raise awareness and encourage others to take the pledge by blogging about this issue. and the Plastic Pollution Coalition have joined us, but we can’t do it alone. Check out the for information. And watch the Midway trailer ( and visit their site to find out more about the documentary.

    Please feel free to use elements of this in your blog or communication. To interview Dr. John Izzo about the pledge, contact Linda Parsons at 778.737.4991 or

  3. sarahguertin Says:

    I’ve always been bothered by litter and the sight of people littering, but I just started a blog to bring awareness to the issue after spending 2 hours cleaning garbage up from my own yard. The tipping point??? I found a McDonald’s cookie wrapper from 1987. It looked about as good as the day it was made… scary stuff!

  4. Leila Darabi Says:

    Gross! Thanks for sharing the link!

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