Our first event with Plastic Patrol was a visit to the canals of east London which also happened to be on the hottest day of the year – a sweltering 34° Celsius!
Armed with hats, sunscreen and our Silver Swan t-shirts, we met at Limehouse and headed out to the water.
After a short explanation, including a warning of just how dirty the water really is (“keep your mouth SHUT if you fall in!”), we each boarded our vessels, litter pickers and buckets in hand, and tentatively paddled off.
The team from Plastic Patrol come down this stretch of river often, but even so they say it’s a constant job to keep it clean. What struck us was just how much rubbish there was. Most in the sides, where birds and wildlife were nesting and living, but also floating right down the middle of the canal.
We turned after about a mile and headed back, and even with 10 of us combing the water on the way out we still found as much on the way back.
It was a great and horrible experience, in equal measure – fun to be on paddle boards and seeing London from the water – however, the amount of rubbish we found was crazy! As well as the usual you’d imagine – crisp packets, drink cans and plastic bags – we also found plastic buckets, a bicycle wheel and even a high heel shoe!
After we got back on solid ground, next was the job of counting our findings. We had each downloaded the Plastic Patrol app, which is a convenient and quick way to log your findings, but also is contributing towards world’s largest survey of inland plastic pollution.
In just a couple of hours we collected a huge amount of rubbish, as well as getting some applause from passers-by. Good deed for the day done, but also a hugely eye-opening experience to the level of pollution happening in just a small part of our city.