Canals and rivers have been havens for mental and physical health during the pandemic, with visits to many urban canals up since last March. However, we have seen a significant rise in littering, up 68% over the last 12 months, putting the nation's precious waterway wildlife habitats at risk and causing an unsightly problem.
We are asking people across England & Wales to take the Plastics Challenge.
The Plastics Challenge
Sean McGinley, our Yorkshire & North East regional director, explained: “If every person who walked, ran, cycled or paddled on their local canal or river took just one piece of plastic home with them, our waterways could be plastic free within a year. We know how spending time by water helps us to relax and boost our ‘feel good' factor, they are fantastic places to get away from life stresses and now more than ever we need to look after them.”
Jo Moseley became the first woman, aged 54, to stand up paddle from Liverpool to Goole along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Aire & Calder Navigation in the summer of 2019 to help raise awareness of plastic pollution in our waterways, collecting rubbish trapped in locks and reed beds as she paddled along and raising £1,000 for charity in the process.
Jo said: “I live just outside Skipton in North Yorkshire and am lucky to have the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Yorkshire Dales on my doorstep. Canals and rivers are such a source of joy and beauty. When I started paddling on the canal and saw the plastic pollution, especially single use plastic bottles, the obvious next step was to litter pick from my paddleboard. I can't change the world, but I can change the little bit around me - and that's what I am trying to do for our waterways and help encourage others to do the same.
"I will always cherish the 11 days I spent stand up paddleboarding 162 miles coast to coast. The beauty of the birdlife, history and community of people I met along the canal were a joy and lifted my soul. You can experience the magic of adventure without travelling too far, with canals and rivers on our doorstep, which I'm so grateful for.”
Thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery we have recently received support from its Postcode Climate Challenge initiative. This will go to support the charity's Plastics Challenge and have an impact in helping to reduce plastics in our waterways.
Also supporting our Plastics Challenge campaign are Strictly Come Dancing winner Bill Bailey and other celebrities including Deborah Meaden, Eamon Holmes, Saira Khan, Helen Glover, Nicola Thorp and The Wombles.