Doc, panel discussion on critical topic

Examining ‘A Plastic Ocean’

Apr 18, 2017
Free diver and environmentalist Tanya Streeter walks amid plastic refuse in the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu.

Rockland — The award-winning documentary “A Plastic Ocean” (2016, Hong Kong) will be screened Saturday, April 29, at 7 p.m. at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St. The film is co-presented by the Good Tern Food Safety Committee, UPSTREAM and the Strand; and Tenji, Inc, Klean Kanteen and Chico Bags are providing additional support.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Upstream Executive Director Matt Prindiville; and Abby Barrows, a marine research scientist who focuses on microplastics research.

More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans each year. “A Plastic Ocean” follows an international team of adventurers, researchers and ocean ambassadors on a mission around the globe. This documentary shows the devastating effects of our disposable lifestyle on marine life, as well as the consequences for human health.

During its four-year production period, A “A Plastic Ocean” was filmed in 20 locations around the world, documenting the global effects of plastic pollution and introducing workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better.

Today, we use plastic, a material designed to last forever, for products designed to last minutes. Each year, 32 million tons of plastic (including one third of all plastic packaging produced) enter the environment with 8 million tons escaping into the world’s oceans. That is equivalent to five shopping bags filled with plastic garbage for every foot of coastline in the world. Sunlight and water currents shred the plastic into smaller particles called microplastics, which attract and concentrate toxic chemicals up the food chain and into our bodies.

With plastic acting as a toxic conveyor belt, sponging pollutants from surrounding waters into the tissues of everything that eats it — from plankton, to fish, to whales to humans who eat seafood — plastic pollution is changing the very chemistry of life. Furthermore, the evidence continues to increase that plastic food packaging leaches toxic chemicals into the food and beverages we consume.

The Good Tern Food Safety Committee was established in 2013 to provide members and the community at large products they can rely on to be safe for consumption. Its efforts are focused on ongoing education and information regarding food safety and fair trade in our culture. Current issues include education regarding GMOs and accompanying herbicides and pesticides; organics vs. conventional; and what's in and on the food we eat, including plastics. The committee currently meets every other Tuesday morning at the Good Tern Café; call 594-8822 for more information.

The Upstream Policy Institute (UPSTREAM) brings together nonprofit, government and business leaders to solve the environmental problems caused by products and packaging. By developing and advancing state and local policy and corporate responsibility, UPSTREAM works to drastically reduce the amount of disposable plastic polluting our planet and impacting our health.

Prindiville is a social entrepreneur, policy expert and campaign strategist who has helped advance safer chemicals policy, product stewardship and packaging reduction throughout the United States. He has 15 years of experience promoting initiatives where corporations address the environmental and social impacts of what they produce. Prindiville brings a wealth of technical knowledge on creating and implementing legislation, as well as real-world experience in running successful campaigns, building broad coalitions and working with stakeholders from every side of an issue.

Barrows of Stonington studies microplastics in the Gulf of Maine and throughout the world as part of the Global Microplastics Initiative. Through the initiative, she maps and analyzes the spread and proliferation of plastic particles smaller than 5mm that likely pose a massive environmental and human health risk when they enter our waterways.

Admission is free, with a $10 suggested donation. For more information, visit; call 594-0070, ext. 3; or email

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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