No, we’re not talking about keeping GRP or plastic boats off the canal, but how boaters can contribute to reducing plastic pollution in our canals and rivers.
News stories and environmental documentaries are regularly showing us all the tremendous amount of damage plastic litter is causing to our oceans and aquatic wildlife.
Our canals and rivers are havens for wildlife too, and many of them ultimately flow out into the ocean. So how can boaters help to reduce the tide of plastic rubbish polluting the places we care about?
Let’s start with simple domestics onboard. Shopping, cooking, washing and cleaning, it’s almost impossible at present to totally avoid purchasing goods either made from or wrapped in plastic. Food wrappings, cleaning products, personal care items and much more all involve plastics of a variety of different types. Some plastics can be recycled, but others must be disposed of in household waste.
We offer boaters many facilities to dispose of domestic waste while out cruising, and an increasing number of recycling facilities too. However, there are things all boaters can do to help prevent domestic rubbish from contributing to plastic pollution in our canals and rivers.
While natural rope fenders are available, most boats tend to have fenders made out of plastic, whether it’s a balloon, pipe, cylindrical shape, corner, chubby, anchor or buoy. At a recent lock stoppage, the boating team were amazed to count so many lost plastic pipe fenders lurking in the bottom of the lock.
A simple way to prevent your fenders adding to the plastic in the canal is to make sure you don’t have them dangling when cruising, bow and stern fenders excepted. When your fenders are in use, normally only while moored up, ensure they are properly secured. Alternatively, why not consider changing to natural rope fenders?
It’s not just boaters’ rubbish in the canal, sadly it’s everybody’s rubbish. Some is blown in from the streets and roads, and some is even fly-tipped into our treasured waterways.
Why not consider helping clean up by joining our volunteer Towpath Taskforce? There are groups based on waterways all over our network and they often organise litter picking sessions.
If you don’t fancy taking part in an organised event, why not join our Plastics Challenge and pledge to do your own regular litter pick? Every piece of litter you remove is one less piece of rubbish that could potentially foul a lock gate, foul your boat’s propeller, or make the bottom of the waterway too close to the top.
Last date edited: 3 February 2021
Our boating team bring you news of their work across our network, as well as the stories of boaters they meetSee more blogs from this author