Our Clear Access, Clear Waters campaign is 2 years old now. Paddlers from across the country are getting behind the access and environment campaign for so many reasons. Whether it's to protect the environment for future generations, enjoy greater access, or do their bit to protect the waterways they love. The campaign offers something tangible for everyone to get behind.
But as well as making a difference together, there are also small changes we can make at home to help our rivers too. Did you know? It's reported at least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. That's a lot! In fact, it's the equivalent of 4 million London Eye's, 75 million Dreamliner aeroplanes, or 1 billion elephants, according to OceanPlasticCleanup.com!
So what? So what's that got to do with me? Well... as paddlers we love to clean up the rivers, but what about taking a step back. What about cutting our single use plastic consumption to start with, so less ends up in the rivers, oceans and landfills. Less to clean up then!
1. A super easy one to start with Easter around the corner... Swap your plastic wrapped chocolate bar for a foil wrapped miniature egg! There will be plenty of products available wrapped in foil rather than plastic. The foil can be recycled, unlike the plastic wrappers. So make sure you pop it in your recycling bin. Similarly if you're buying Easter eggs, have a look what the actual packaging is before you buy! Are there ones on the shelf with less packaging you could opt for?
2. Take your cutlery with you when going out for takeaway food. Most takeaway outfits have plastic forks to eat with. Avoid adding to your single plastic use consumption and take your own cuttlery, or keep some in the car or in your bag with you, just incase you get caught short when out and about!
3. Reuse your miniature jam jars for condiment containers when out at a café to avoid the sachet condiments. You know those small jam jars you get when you stay in a hotel? Or that you buy for convenience on short trips? Keep them! Decant your favourite sauces into them and keep them in fridge, then, when you go out and about, take a few with you. The small sachets you get at takeaways can't be recycled and just think how many you use in one sitting!
4. Swap you ballpoint pen for a pencil or a fountain pen. That's right, fountain pens are making a strong come back these days with the eco-conscious. One pen for like, you just refill the ink.
5. Inspect your bathroom for repeat single use plastic offenders. Plastic toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, disposable razors, plastic earbuds, soap bottles, shampoo and conditioner bottles... your bathroom will likely be full of offenders! Take a little audit, and next time you need to replace one, replace it for a more single use plastic friendly version. Start with your toothbrush and replace it with a bamboo or other recyclable material one. Switch the plastic soap dispenser for a hand soap bar (you can get some pretty funky ones these days!). Shampoo and conditioner bars are also available, or switch to a brand that offers you the chance to recycle or refill your bottle instore. Lots of options.
6. Use a refillable water bottle and coffee cup too. We're sure you're probably already doing this, but switching to a refillable water bottle and reusable coffee cup can save LOTS of single use plastic waste.
7. Look at what you're putting in your shopping basket. Do you usually just wander through the supermarket on autopilot? Take a look next time at exactly what you're putting in your basket, how much plastic there is, and whether there are plastic-less or plastic free alternatives nearby.
8. Search for a refill station near you. These little refill shops are starting to pop up all over the place now, so there'll probably be one closer than you think! Many supermarkets are also now trialling the refill station approach. Give them a go and see how easy they are. Sometimes, it's just about switching up your routine.
9. Switch your soap, washing up liquid and laundry detergents. Again, all available now in plastic free or plastic-less versions. Lots of available for many different skin types and household needs too!
10. Let's talk about periods. Unfortunately, one of the most common items we always find ourselves, and paddlers tell us about finding in the river and on the beaches, is plastic infused period products. Tampon applicators, sanitary pads, towels... and more. Time and time again they're one of the most prolific offenders for pollution in our waterways and oceans. So what can you do? Firstly, don't flush them! This is one of the most common ways they end up in the waterways in the first place. Use the specialised bins in the bathroom, or buy a little protective bag to keep these used items in should a bin not be available to use. There are also LOADS of alternative options for menstrual products now on the market - reusable menstrual cups, reusable tampon applicators, reusable pads and even period pants. Whilst not suitable for everyone and they are more costly to begin with, the money they can save in the long run, and the plastic wastage they cut down on is huge. Completely worth investigating for yourself. Some brands to check out include TOTM, Cheeky Wipes and Mooncup, but there are many others out there too.
Find out more about our Clear Access, Clear Waters campaign here.