Episode 54 – Earthrise and Big Plastic’s Recycling Scam

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What happens when an image changes our worldview? In this episode, Olivia tells the story of Earthrise, the era-defining photo that almost wasn’t taken. Cue astronauts bickering over color film and stars aligning.

Then, Elise tells the story of a well-meaning architect whose design was co-opted by Big Plastic. A stealthy meeting at the Ritz Carlton led to a recycling symbol that has been confusing consumers for decades.

Other topics include harnessing your pissed-off energy, new music, and The Container Store’s alter ego.

Story #1: Earthrise (Olivia)
Earthrise, taken by Bill Anders on the NASA Apollo 8 mission in 1968. (One of the craters in the foreground is now named “Ander’s Earthrise”!)

The Story Behind Apollo 8’s Famous Earthrise Photo, short film by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee for National Geographic
Earthrise and Apollo 8, Wikipedia
The Story Behind Apollo 8’s Famous Earthrise Photo, NASA Science (you can hear the audio in this one and see the tiny windows!)
Solving Space: Earthrise, Space Center Houston
What Did People Think Earth Looked Like Before We Actually Saw It?, Factinate
Earthrise: How the Iconic Image Changed the World, The Guardian, December 24 2018

Timeline of Images of Earth Before 1969, Abroad in the Yard
Timeline of first images of Earth from space, Wikipedia
Notes on shooting in the dark in the field, Peter Thompson (on the Viewosphere)

Shoutout to Earthrise Studio for their incredible visual storytelling work on the climate crisis, particularly their recent coverage of refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere. Their studio is named after this photo!

The first photos taken from space were taken on October 24, 1946 on the sub-orbital U.S.-launched V-2 rocket (flight #13) at White Sands Missile Range. Photos were taken every second and a half. The highest altitude (65 miles, 105 km) was 5 times higher than any picture taken before. / Photo and caption by Wikimedia, sourced via Factinate

You can see why, although these photos are amazing, they didn’t have the emotional impact that Earthrise did decades later.

The black-and-white photo of the Earthrise taken by Anders just before Lovell found the color film. It’s beautiful, but imagine if they hadn’t brought color film!

The Blue Marble was taken in 1972, four years after Earthrise, on the Apollo 17 mission. It became one of the most reproduced images in the world.

The Blue Marble was taken in 1972, four years after Earthrise, on the Apollo 17 mission. It became one of the most reproduced images in the world.
Story #2: Big Plastic’s Scam and the Real History of the Recycling Symbol (Elise)
Gary Anderson’s Original Design via Dieline

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled, NPR, Sept 2020
Why Have We All Been Recycling For 30 Years, Planet Money, NPR, Sept 2020
States take aim at ubiquitous “chasing arrow” symbol on products that aren’t recycled, CBS, Sept 2021
The Theft of the Recycling Symbol, Deal Design, July 2020
The History of Plastic: The Theft Of The Recycling Symbol, Dieline, April 2020
Recycling Myth of the Month: Those numbered symbols on single-use plastics do not mean ‘you can recycle me’, Oceana, March 2020
And a brilliant comedic 8-minute breakdown of the issue by Rollie Williams:
Plastic Recycling is an Actual Scam, Climate Town

Plastic Resin Identification Codes created by The Society of Plastics Institute in 1988. / Image via Oceana
The Dump

Elise’s vintage shop Heiss Vintage will be doing pop-ups at SXSW this week! Come say hi if you’re in the area.

We also talk about the new Batman (and some climate themes??), new music (Big Thief, Rex Orange County, and Stromae), and how Adrianne Lenker has always been a star.

The World Is Burning bookshop is live! Help us come up with book list titles and bulk up our reading list.

Our World is Burning themed playlist is on Spotify.

You can keep up with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok.

If you enjoyed this episode, considering reviewing us on Apple Podcasts and downloading/subscribing/following wherever you like to do those things. It helps us immensely.

Thanks for listening!

Ep. 74 – Burning Questions Part II World Is Burning

Can you believe we've gone 2 1/2 years without creating our very own game show about us? Neither can we! Test your climate knowledge alongside us as we ask ourselves the burning questions: Where are tumbleweeds from? What are our favorite climate activists' favorite insects? and How do you do fractions again? Subscribe/follow/press the button to keep up with new episodes every Wednesday! You can also follow us @worldisburnin on Instagram and Twitter or @worldisburning on TikTok, and check out our website worldisburning.com for extended show notes including sources and photos. World Is Burning is hosted by Olivia Hamilton and Elise Nye. Our theme music is by Kaycie Satterfield, and our logo was made by Sonja Katanic. — Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/worldisburning/message
  1. Ep. 74 – Burning Questions Part II
  2. Ep 73 – Burning Questions
  3. Ep. 72 – It’s A Joke Until It’s Not – the Overton Window and AI
  4. Ep. 71 – Oil Spills – Deepwater Horizon and Dawn Dish Soap
  5. Ep. 70 – Deep Sea Explorers – Jacques Cousteau & Dr. Sylvia Earle