“If everyone who visits one of our canals or rivers picks up just one piece of plastic, they’d be clear within a year.”

That is the message from the Canal and River Trust as it steps up its campaign to keep our towpaths tidy and stop half a million pieces of plastic reaching the ocean. 

The charity usually relies heavily on its army of volunteers to help clear the waterways of plastic and litter, but it has had to put volunteering activity on hold since mid-March due to coronavirus.

At the same time, the need for people to ‘stay local’ has seen an increase in the number of people using their nearby towpath, and also an increase in the amount of litter and plastic left behind.

Peter Birch, national environmental policy advisor at Canal and River Trust, said: “Our canals are great on-the-doorstep places for people to enjoy, however the unintended consequence is that they can be highways to the ocean.

 “500,000 pieces of carelessly discarded plastic travel along our waterways and out to sea each year.

 “Canals have been there for local people during lockdown and we need people to help us look after them to ensure they remain a place everyone can enjoy.

“It’s the little things we do on our doorstep that can make a world of difference, so get active to fight plastic by joining our plastics challenge and help make a global difference in your local community.” 

The good news is that it’s the little things you and your family do on your doorstep that can make a world of difference. The amount of plastic and litter in our waterways has dropped by 30% in 2020.

While people still need to carefully follow government guidelines on social distancing and washing their hands, the trust is asking visitors to carry out a short litter pick while visiting local canals or rivers and take home what you collect to be recycled. 

To ensure everyone takes part in the challenge safely, it has created a handy guide which can be downloaded via canalrivertrust.org.uk/plastic

March 04, 2021 — Ryde UK