Paddle & Pick – Active 360 organises litter picking on the river by paddleboard

Image above: Litter picking on the River Thames; Active 360

Big companies book their staff in for team building / corporate social responsibility sessions

Transport for London is sending 120 of its staff for a day on the river on Thursday 21 July. Not a jolly but a day of picking up litter from the River Thames.

Over the past 20 years there has been a significant decrease in items such as tyres, metal and bicycles in the river, but over the same period there has been a noticeable increase in plastic consumer items and packaging in the river.

Up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year, and it’s estimated that 80% comes from land, likely from rivers. Here in London, Thames21 and the Port of London Authority  remove at least 200 tonnes of waste from the Thames each year, much of it plastic.

Active 360, the Stand Up Paddleboarding outfit at Kew Bridge, organises regular litter picks by paddleboard. From the river volunteers can get to the rubbish which gets caught in the overhanging branches of trees and bushes along the bank.

It has become a regular team building and Corporate Social Responsibility exercise for big companies. Visit Britain, the national tourism agency, has sent its staff on a Paddle & Pick day. Earlier this year Natural England sent a team and investment bank Moelis are booked in for August.

Image above: Litter picking on the River Thames; Active 360

Food wrappers and wet wipes the worst offenders

Plastic wet wipe products are the most common item recorded on the tidal Thames foreshore in London. They get embedded in the mud in clumps.

“You find you are not standing on the ground but on great piles of wet wipes which have covered the shore, stuck together and disguised by mud” Paul told us. There are certain places where the tide takes them and piles them up.

Single-use plastic items make up 83% of all counted items on the foreshore. Around Kew Bridge, Brentford Ait and at the start of the tow path on Grove Park Rd at Strand on the Green are some of the places where plastic litter collects. When Active 360 organise Paddle & Pick sessions they have teams walking along the shoreline as well as people on the river.

Image above: Litter picking on the River Thames; Active 360

Most commonly found after plastic wet wipes are food wrappers, cotton bud sticks, drink bottles and bottle lids, cups, take-away containers and unidentified items.

Active 360 has led the way in organising river clear-ups. They have worked with the Thames Estuary Partnership, Watertrek and Tideway to organise a series of clean ups mostly in London, on the Thames and London canals.

In 2017 they were one of the organisers of the Plastic Ocean Festival – an original idea of combining water clean ups with marine environmental films screened (mostly free or for nominal donation) around West London in community centres, auditoriums, bars and open air screens.

“Clearing up plastic trash is a quick fix” says Paul. “We see the effects immediately and we feel better for it. Sadly, clean ups like these do nothing to reduce the underlying problem of disposable plastic packaging.”

Image above: Litter picking on the River Thames; Active 360

Active 360 is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme. They offer Club Card holders 10% off paddleboarding sessions.

Club Card offer

To find out about paddleboarding with Active 360 have a look at their website.

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