A rant: I’m a big National Geographic dork, so it pains me to kvetch about the ton of crap that comes with each issue. Once relieved of its “recyclable” plastic baggie, the fumes usually make me want to hang it on the clothesline for a while to air out, and I would, except a zillion junky inserts would festoon the lawn (excepting the sometimes great map supplement).

But this month’s garbage haul topped it all, as a promotional DVD tumbled to the kitchen floor. Called "Eureka," it’s a slick nine-minute commercial for Shell Oil dressed up as a movie, complete with a Hollywood score and gauzy cinematography, wherein our hero, the troubled but lovable petroleum engineer with receding hairline, struggles mightily with the problem of how to get more precious oil out of the earth without disturbing a nearby coral reef system, and remains stumped until he looks into his heart and is given the key by a child. Really. And that’s not all.

Shell even has the incredible balls to write clearly on the DVD jacket that this glorious production is meant only for promotion, and is not for sale. Not for sale!

Other oil companies at least are hip to the notion that people want to hear about companies’ plans to get beyond oil, not how to get and burn more.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Now imagine one of these little plastic frisbees hitting the trash bin with real force in each of National Geographic‘s 5.4 million subscribers’ homes. I guess this is what you should expect from a (not-for-profit!) magazine which insists that it must print its pretty pictures only on virgin paper, 150 pages of them, monthly. Multiply that by 5.4 million, too.

Oh, a ray of hope! The cover is printed on “recycled-content paper.”

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