Organizers for the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover are issuing a call to arms: Bring a reusable water bottle when you visit the Race Village at Fort Adams State Park to contribute to the fight against plastics littering the world.
The request is part of an ambitious sustainability plan set forth by organizers including Sail Newport and the Sustainability Committee for the stopover, 11th Hour Racing, a Newport-based organization that works with the sailing community and maritime industry to advance solutions and practices that protect and restore the health of the ocean, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM), and the Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Program.
Single-use water bottles and plastic utensils and straws are banned from the Race Village. They’re discarded items commonly found in clean-ups and contribute to the growing problem of micro-plastics in the world’s oceans. One report cited by the Volvo Ocean Race’s Sustainability Program estimates that by the year 2050 micro-plastic particles will outnumber fish in the world’s oceans.
“The 2015 Volvo Ocean Race Stopover at Fort Adams State Park was a great success on many levels. One of the most heartening and inspiring aspects to me was how it raised awareness and established a new high bar on sustainable practices,” said RI DEM Director Janet Coit, who personally worked on the sustainability plan with the many organizations.
“Perhaps the biggest impact we can have at the Race Village is reducing the use of plastic bottles – free drinking water will be available to fill up reusable water bottles. Through our work at the event we can change individual mindsets and remove practical obstacles. The cumulative impact of that should be tremendous and ripple out across the seas.”
The Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover is scheduled May 8-20 at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, RI. As with the race’s first-ever visit to Newport in 2015, entrance to the Race Village is free of charge for all ages. The stopover in 2015 was wildly popular and attracted more than 131,000 visitors.
Two major features of the 2015 Newport stopover that have been incorporated this year are the Ocean Summit and the One Ocean Exploration Zone, presented by 11th Hour Racing. The theme of “One Ocean Connects us All” adopted by Sail Newport for the Stopover this year aligns closely with the sustainability initiatives that the Volvo Ocean Race is championing as well.
The One Ocean Exploration Zone, presented by 11th Hour Racing, will present 32 interactive exhibits for all ages on sustainability, ocean health, ocean exploration, sailing, marine life, hydrobotics, storm forecasting, model test tanks, simple machines and other activities.
The Ocean Summit brings together the worlds of sport, industry, government, science and ocean advocates to showcase innovative solutions and announcements to combat the global crisis of ocean plastic pollution. The Newport Ocean Summit is scheduled May 18.
The sustainability plan during the Stopover three years ago saw 23,000 pounds of trash diverted from landfill collection, equating to a 60 percent diversion rate. Volunteers also planted more than 1,100 square feet of seagrass to offset more than 700 tons of CO2 emissions. Hoping for more visitors this year, many of the same practices will be enacted during the 13-day stopover.
On April 8 Sail Newport and Clean Ocean Access hosted a beach cleanup at Fort Adams State Park that attracted nearly 350 volunteers who collected nearly 1,800 pounds of trash. A similar clean-up prior to the 2015 stopover collected 1,500 pounds of trash.
“Sail Newport, event vendors, the hospitality industry, and partners are making huge strides to create a successful event, a winning event for the economy and the environment,” said Dave McLaughlin, the executive director of Newport-based Clean Ocean Access and co-chairman of the Sustainability Committee for the Stopover.
“Plastic is a great invention that has and will continue to improve the quality of life on our planet, but we have to make sure that we don’t let any of it litter our neighborhoods and become plastic pollution and ocean litter,” McLaughlin said.
The Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover has set defining goals – putting the health of Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound at the forefront of planning. The three objectives will help raise awareness and educate about the health of the oceans, reduce single-use plastic and the carbon emissions inherent with one-off events, and ensure the event leaves a positive legacy on the local community.
Visitors to the Race Village can contribute greatly to the effort through many actions:
• Bike, walk, or make use of a water taxi or carpool to reduce CO2emissions
• Recycle trash and compost food in the properly marked receptacles placed around the Race Village
• Refill reusable water bottle at water purification stations provided by Sweden-based Bluewater, a partner of the Volvo Ocean Race’s Sustainability Program
• Make use of mobile phone re-charging stations provided by PrimoWind, a renewable energy company based in San Diego
• Visit the Newport Biodiesel kiosk to learn more about the environmentally friendly fuel sourced from discarded cooking oils. Newport Biodiesel will provide 18,000 gallons of fuel for generators and the race yachts
• Volunteer for the Green Team
S• ign the Clean Seas Pledge
Also, Blue Isles PowerDocks will provide solar-powered energy for boats docking at Sail Newport for the Stopover. Some vessels will be able to recharge at the dock for their marine electronic needs with this sustainable energy source.
“The most striking moment for me in 2015 was at the Ocean Summit, where I heard eyewitness accounts from the sailors of the disgust they felt when they saw gyres of plastics, Styrofoam and other trash in the remotest parts of the oceans,” Coit said. “The discards from our communities across the world accumulate in our seas, poisoning marine life and violating what should be wild, healthy marine areas. This image has stuck with me, as well as the sense that this around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race can knit together efforts to reduce plastic across the globe.”