Rage Against Rubbish are joining our fight against plastic pollution with monthly litter picks along the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. These dedicated volunteers use canoes and kayaks to keep their local canal looking beautiful.
The Rage Against Rubbish crew include nine-year-old Riley Perry, Jason Winter, Trev Vass and Sarah Johnstone. We caught up with Dan Perry, Chairman of Rage Against Rubbish, who works in partnership with the Trust on a pocket adoption of the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.
Rage Against Rubbish was formed by a group of friends who kayak along the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal on a weekly basis. It all started in November 2017, when myself, my son Riley and our friend Jason were having a leisurely paddle to The Purplespoon Café in Bridgwater. On the way we started to pick up rubbish and before long we were unable to collect any more due to the kayak being full.
A few weeks later the three of us, aided by our friend Trev, were paddling when Trev hit something under the water in his kayak. Upon closer inspection we realised that it was a set of temporary traffic lights.
After successfully removing them, and phoning the company that owned them, we discovered yet another set of temporary traffic lights. This was filmed by a passing dog walker and posted to Facebook. We seized the opportunity to promote Rage Against Rubbish with the power of social media. Before long interest grew and we decided to put out a call to members of the public to help us in our quest to clean the waterway.
After our first public litter pick in April 2018 our Facebook post caught the attention of Sarah Johnstone, now our PR Officer. Sarah wanted to get involved and bring her PR expertise and passion for the environment to help Rage Against Rubbish. Since then Rage Against Rubbish has gone from strength to strength.
We meet on a monthly basis on Saturday mornings at the YMCA in Bridgwater and we see on average between 30 and 50 volunteers on each litter pick. This includes both land-based and water-based volunteers.
Thanks to the YMCA, which is located next to the canal, we can offer our volunteers kayaks and canoes free of charge. It’s just fantastic to have local people and businesses coming together to really make a difference. The Inland Waterways Association and The Purplespoon Café also support our work and our volunteers.
Our events encourage the local community to work together, people can make new friends and improve their mental wellbeing.Dan Perry
Our volunteers also learn new skills as some have never tried kayaking or canoeing before. It can be a great family activity.
It’s frustrating to see such a beautiful asset in our local area being blighted by litter. A lot of the items we find in the canal are put there deliberately. We find lots of big and heavy items such as bikes, scooters, road signs, fencing, traffic lights, televisions, bags of clothes and traffic cones as well as the usual cans, bottles and general litter. But organising and completing litter picks gives us a huge sense of satisfaction and pride. It’s great to see such a variety of people joining us, from young families to pensioners too.
Little actions add up to big changes in society.Dan Perry
Looking forwards, we would like to get involved with education. We hear so many stories from our adult volunteers saying that their children are now picking litter up in their street or when they walk their dog. Little actions like this add up to big changes in society. Children are a powerful tool and their influence should not be underestimated.
Being by the water brings a huge sense of relaxation and improvement in mental wellbeing. It’s our go to place to chill out, relax and spend time with friends and volunteers. When we aren’t picking up litter from the canal, we use it for kayaking and it’s such a great place to have on our doorstep. We want to encourage more people in the community to use it, whatever their interest.
Last date edited: 3 July 2020