A stand-up paddleboarding expedition which will explore the course of plastic from source to sea, and the relationship between our lives inland and the ocean, starts today.
From 9-16th September 2020, Cal Major, world record stand up paddleboarder, veterinary surgeon, ocean advocate and founder of Paddle Against Plastic, will be stand up paddleboarding the River Severn from its first navigable point on the Welsh/English border out to sea.
The aim of Paddle Against Plastic is to bring Ocean Optimism to the plastic pollution crisis, connecting the dots between our actions on land and the plight of the ocean, and offering positive solutions. It also aims to help reconnect us to our blue spaces.
At 354km, the River Severn is the UK’s longest river. From its source high up in the Welsh hills, it ﬂows through Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, and the cities of Shrewsbury, Worcester and Gloucester.
These three counties and cities are served by the Midcounties Co-operative, who have been tackling single-use plastic with their One Change campaign which launched in 2019, and are supporting this River Severn expedition. Amongst other actions, The Midcounties Co-op have switched from plastic to compostable bags, preventing the production of approximately 3 million plastic carrier bags each year.
Around 80% of marine litter originates from land-based sources, often ending up in waterways that take it out to sea. So even if we don't live by the coast, we all have the ability to reduce the amount of plastic that can find its way into the ocean. This expedition will be bringing a daily call to action of how we as individuals and communities can do this, and how reconnection to natural places can not only improve our mental health, but encourage us to protect the places we love.
A recent study by the Canals and Rivers Trust found that if each person visiting the waterways picked up just one piece of litter, they could be free from waste in just one year .
Cal Major said: “I’m excited to demonstrate that no matter how far we live from the sea in the UK, we're all connected to it through the network of inland waterways running like arteries and veins through our country.
"These waterways are here for all of us to enjoy, and the more connected we feel to these blue spaces which have been proven to be beneficial to our mental health, the more we're going to want to protect them.
These waterways are here for all of us to enjoy, and the more connected we feel to these blue spaces which have been proven to be beneficial to our mental health, the more we're going to want to protect them.– Cal Major - founder of Paddle Against Plastic
"We all have the ability to make positive change with our day to day actions and within our communities, and that’s what we’ll be talking about during the expedition.
"It’s going to be a tough week; I’ll be paddling 30 plus miles a day, but I’m really looking forward to experiencing the beautiful River Severn and its wildlife and people.”
A short film will be made of the expedition, which will be aired on 24th September at a special online webinar and Q and A with Cal Major and the Midcounties Co-op.
You can follow the expedition on social media using #paddleagainstplastic and at:
IG @cal_major, @midcountiesandthebigpicture
FB @calmajorocean, @themidcountiescooperative
Twitter @CalMajor_, @midcountiescoop