Thanks to the support from 11th Hour Racing, Aquidneck Land Trust, Salve Regina University & Jane Pickens Theater, this fall’s newportFILM youth program served over 1,100 Aquidneck Island public & private school students from grades 6th through 8th with three screenings of the powerful environmental documentary, A Plastic Ocean.

A Plastic Ocean brings to light the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle. We thought we could use plastic once and throw it away with negligible impact to humans and animals. That turns out to be untrue. In the film, an international team of adventurers, researchers, and ocean ambassadors go on a mission around the globe to uncover the shocking truth about what is truly lurking beneath the surface of our seemingly pristine ocean.

The first of three film screenings was followed by a post-film discussion with Dave McLaughlin, director & co-founder of Clean Ocean Access (COA) & Newport mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano. McLaughlin & Dr. Jim Chace, professor of Biology & Biomedical Sciences, Cultural, Environmental, & Global Studies at Salve Regina University, led the second and third screening’s post-film discussion.

Documentaries can often leave you wondering “but what can I do?”. Following these screenings, students were able to ask questions to the assembled experts. Popular questions were “Does paper cause a pollution problem?,” “Does wrapping paper put toxins & plastics into the ocean?,” “Are scientists working to get plastic out of the ocean?,” “What are the alternatives to plastics?,” “What is the Aquidneck Island ‘Ban the Bag’ effort all about?”

McLaughlin gave the students some tangible, action-oriented takeaways on how to reduce their use of single use plastic, including this checklist to help reduce our plastic bag use: 

1. Stop using plastic bags and replace them with durable reusable bags

2. Skip the wrapping paper this holiday season and give your gifts in reusable bags

3. Let your favorite merchants know that you support the elimination of plastic bags

4. Inform all elected officials that you support the elimination of plastic bags

5. Get outside and connect with nature and let the good feeling of our island environment build a wave of momentum to protect the environment for future generation

Going one step further, McLaughlin informed students about Clean Ocean Access’ local “Ban The Bag” movement on Aquidneck Island. COA has created a petition for Islanders to sign. This initiative, with over 1,000 signatures to date, will be discussed at the January 2017 city council meeting with the goal of having the ban in place by Earth Day (Saturday, April 22, 2017).

Sign the petition here:

Want to get your hands dirty? Join the next Clean Ocean Access beach cleanup on December 3 in Hull Cove, Jamestown from 12-2PM.

A Plastic Ocean will become available on January, 20 2017. More about the film at


Through the platform of the sailing and marine community, 11th Hour Racing programs foster ocean stewardship, increase our understanding of the ocean, and support the development of innovative solutions to the challenges that impact the marine environment. 11th Hour Racing has three program areas: grants, sponsorships, and ambassadors. For more information please visit