The Autumn Beach and River Clean series got off to a flying start last week! With 481 clean ups taking place across the UK involving over 20,000 volunteers, Surfers Against Sewage have seen their biggest Autumn Beach and River Clean Series numbers to date!
We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who got involved, taking part will make a huge difference not only to your local area but in raising awareness to the problems of plastic pollution in our waterways.
We have loved hearing from paddlers across the UK who have all volunteered their time to take to the water and cleanup the waterways, and we've included some highlights below!
Remember, if you want to be featured send us details of your clean up so we can log them and enter you into our competition to win a signed copy of Lucy Siegle's latest book 'Turning The Tide On Plastic'. More details on how to enter can be found at the bottom of the article.
Ben Seal, our Places to Paddle Manager took part in his first clean of the week today, joining Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and our partners Peak UK on the water at the River Derwent.
Armed with litter pickers and a river clean up kit, the team managed to collect 5 SAS sacks of plastic and rubbish along with a few more interesting items which included 4 road cones, 1 lawn mower, 2 car tyres, 2 slalom poles and a children's slide.
Whoosh Explore Canoe Club in Hertfordshire organised a river clean up this week and covered 12 kilometres of the River Stort, collecting 24 bags of rubbish!
"For our river clean we had a wonderful mixed group of volunteers including local residents, members of the Ouseburn Trust Environment Group, the Tyne Rivers Trust and the company Balfour Beatty.
"We collected about two vans worth of rubbish, from mixed items like old bicycles, broken pipes and junk, right through to general litter and plastics. The sheer scale of it, for a river clean that was only half a mile long, reminded us that there is much wider conversation to be had on waste in general, in addition to the plastic issues we face.
"There were definitely a few strange items we found, but more pertinent was the age of some of them. At one point I found both Pepsi and Diet Coke cans that hadn’t any dietary information on them, which suggested they must have been there for a while. After a quick look online I realised they were both from the 80s/90s!
"All in all it was a very interesting day, and the group will be continually working on the river to ensure its future; vibrant, healthy, and free of pollutants, plastics and old soft drinks cans!"
- Chad Male
Community Lead for Surfers Against Sewage's Plastic Free Ouseburn campaign.
It was a team effort for Coast Care, Wansbeck Paddlesport Club, Coquet Shorebase Trust and Amble Rowing Club who joined forces to clear River Coquet Harbour and Estuary on Saturday 20 October.
Midland Canoe Club took to The River Derwent with British Canoeing's Places to Paddle Manager Ben Seal. Over just a one mile stretch of river the team collected 6 sacks of rubbish including 138 plastic bottles, a garden chair and multiple footballs and crates.
Midland Canoe Club President John Chamberlain said:
“As a club, our members paddle on the river most days and are acutely aware of the amount of rubbish that accumulates. The sheer volume of plastic is just shocking, we collected as much as we could carry in our boats but really we just scratched the surface”.
Members of staff from the British Canoeing offices took to the local waterways this week as part of the Autumn Beach and River Clean Series, retrieving a bike, a fire extinguisher and a red stiletto as well as six Surfers Against Sewage sacks full of plastic and litter.
Lincoln Canoe Club spent their weekend paddling along The Brayford Pool, the Fossdyke canal and Upper Witham cleaning up rubbish in the waterways as part of the Autumn Beach and River Clean series.
After several hours on the water over two days and in a variety of craft from open canoes to stand up paddleboards,the team of 40 collected collected 13 Surfers Against Sewage bags of rubbish, road signs and traffic cones alongside some more unusual items including half of a garden shed, three fence posts, a hand bag and a garden fork!
Port of Plymouth Canoeing Association (PPCA) organised two clean ups with a slight difference, enlisting the help of The Royal Navy and Plymouth City Council, as Tony from the PPCA explains,
“First, using our boats we called it a 'Coastal Clean Up' paddle, a paddle with a difference, a paddle to make a difference!
“The Royal Navy donated cotton net bags, small reusable cotton bags which meant kayakers could pick up pollution, drop it into their nets and carry on paddling.
“The Plymouth City Council were great, they gave us the large green recycling bags, litter-picking sticks and gloves.
“The Open Canoes carried the large green bags, and as the individual kayakers filled their net bags they would meet up with their allocated Open Canoe and transfer the pollution into the green recycling bags.
“Both of our Coastal Clean Up paddles commenced from the area Fort Bovisand Beach and finished at Mountbatten beach, a coastline of approx. 2.2km.
“At Bovisand Beach the bags and loose pollution was placed in a pre-arranged location (with the Council) who came and collected the waste within 30 minutes to prevent it becoming an eyesore!
“So the whole coastal clean up meant we weren't using the traditional black plastic bags to collect the pollution, creating yet more waste!
“We intend to 'adopt' this stretch of coastline and do regular clean-ups, and also extend an invitation to other canoe groups/paddlers to come and join us.”
On Sunday 28th October, 9 volunteers armed with paddles and litter pickers took part in the first River Ouse Clean Up, organised by local outdoor sports company Hatt Adventures, as part of Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and British Canoeing’s Autumn Beach and River Clean project.
Starting at Barcombe Mills in East Sussex, the volunteers scoured 2.8km of river by kayak on the hunt for rubbish. In just 3.5 hours, they collected a total 30kg waste, which included: 58 drinks bottles, flip flops, a DVD case, a wing mirror, plastic lighters, dozens of tennis balls, footballs, fragments of polystyrene and rubber, plastics bags caught in trees, fishing lines and hooks, and an extra-large piece of industrial plastic tubing.
The majority of the plastic bottles fished out of the Ouse will find an unlikely happy ending as eco fashion duo Vin + Omi (www.vinandomi.com) plan to turn them into limited edition T-shirts in their upcoming collection.
Clare Osborn of Clare Talks Rubbish (www.claretalksrubbish.com) was guest speaker on the day and took part in the clean up. Clare is a Sustainability Consultant and Ocean Plastic Expert with a passion for inspiring positive change. Clare said: “It is vital to connect the waste that we pull out of the water ways, with the consumables we take off the supermarket shelves. Events like this river clean are a great way to raise awareness of the main polluters. A simple call to action for all: write to your favourite brands and ask them what they are doing to find more circular solutions.”
Tom Hatt, founder of Hatt Adventures, said: “As lovers of the outdoors, we are committed to minimising our impact on nature. This was an opportunity to give something back to the natural environment where we host so many of our courses each year. We look forward to the next clean up!”
Their clean up was also featured in local newspaper The Argus, take a look here!
Take a look at the photos from Marlow Canoe Clubs river clean below:
Wiltshire Youth Canoe Club took to the water in Melksham for a river clean and have been inspired by what they found to hold another clean up next year.
"Thanks to everyone that joined us! There was loads found and definitely more to come. Another one coming up in the spring we think! "
We also have lots of resources and information on the environment pages of our website including a river clean up checklist.
Click here to find out more and register your clean ups on our online tracker.