Plastic litter is a major problem for any environment and the River Thames in London is no exception. Recent studies show that food related packaging is the most commonly found litter type on the Thames foreshore, representing almost two out of three pieces of identifiable litter. Food wrappers/containers, drinks bottles, polystyrene cups and bottle tops are unfortunately a common sight, along with wet wipes, cotton buds and other toiletry waste products.
The larger pieces of plastic are being continuously rolled backwards and forwards by the estuary’s tidal movements and are broken down into smaller and smaller micro plastic fragments that are easily ingested by birds, fish and smaller species such as crabs.
What’s the worst is that many of the plastic products found in the Thames are single use products i.e used only once before being discarded! Once plastic products get into our waterways they do not go away. Unless someone picks them up they are here to stay. This plastic pollution in our waterways is so unnecessary, but hopefully with increased awareness and the use of biodegrable materials in disposable products as well as for packaging we can have a huge positive impact on our waterways and the Thames.
But in the meantime what can we as paddleboarders do about the rubbish found in our beautiful waters? After all we’re the ones wanting to enjoy our beautiful surroundings!
Well… as well as thinking carefully about the products you’re buying, using and flushing down the loo, next time you go for a paddle if you see some rubbish, pick it up. Or why not organise a regular litter pick paddle like Bray Lake Watersports in Berkshire near London, UK has done monthly. You might even have fun picking up rubbish!
Lauren Newman from Bray Lake tells us about their recent Litter Pick Paddle and how you can get involved too…
A sunny crisp morning saw a team of 12 staff, club members and friends of Bray lake (some who had travelled up to an hour just to be a part of our mission) armed with litter pickers and paddle boards ready to collect the debris that ends up on the Thames. You have never seen such enthusiasm for rubbish! We paddled 6km digging through reeds and getting caught in trees and bushes but we were ever much the success story,
‘we came back with two big black bin liners full of bottles, cans and various packets plus an impressive 6 tennis balls, a traffic cone, a football, signs and a fishing rod.’
Although we were very happy with our catch and we had a great morning doing it we all knew we had only scratched the surface so this trip will become a permanent fixture each month. We look forward to welcoming more comeraids to our cause to keep our amazing environment clean, safe and a place that we can enjoy SUP.