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Bottles, mops and wheelbarrows - a team of paddlers clean up Wigan canal

A group of paddlers on kayaks and SUPs, led by Cal Major,  cleared a stretch of the Canal in Wigan on Sunday in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic in the water.

Wigan Clean Up 30 9 18

Credit: James Appleton

Cal, an ambassador for Surfers Against Sewage, joined SUP North, a group of paddlers who regularly run clean ups in their local area. They cleared 20 bags of rubbish including 430 plastic bottles as well as polystyrene chip trays, cans, a fishing rod, mop and half a wheelbarrow along a one and a half mile stretch.

“Despite the sheer amount of rubbish, there was a great community feel to the event,” said Cal.  “There was a real satisfaction at being able to do something positive for an environment that brings us so much pleasure, and to prevent that plastic from ending up out to sea.

 “Several people living close by also offered help disposing of the rubbish and encouragement and thanks for helping to look after the environment that means something to them too.”

Cal is an ocean advocate, explorer and veterinary surgeon who recently set a new world record by becoming the first person to stand up paddleboard the entire length of the UK, from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Scotland; 1000 miles over 59 days. She paddled 750 miles of open ocean and 250 miles of inland waterways - canals and rivers.

According to Cal, 80% of marine litter originates from land based sources, and most of it is single use plastic, used for a matter of minutes.

“In the UK we use 38.5 million plastic bottles every single day, and less than half of them are recycled. The simplest way to help prevent this is to choose a reusable water bottle over single use plastic ones, and commit to filling up from the tap.” says Cal.   “I encourage everyone to look at the plastic they are using in their everyday lives and reduce it where possible. It’s not a question of feeling guilty about the plastic you are using, but feeling positive about the stuff you avoid.

“We need to address this if we are to stand a chance of tackling plastic pollution. We need to bring the message inland.”

British Canoeing has joined forces with Surfers Against Sewage for the Autumn Beach and River Clean series, which aims for 400-500 clean ups to take place across the country between 20-28th October. To register your interest in running a river clean up, please click here