‘Life changing’: Plastic Patrol brings free paddle boarding cleanups of British waterways to Rochdale

Plastic Patrol, a non-profit charity seeking to clean up Britain’s waterways and raise awareness of single use plastic, is bringing its project to Rochdale.  

From 10am until 12pm this Sunday, locals can help the charity clean up the pollution hotspots of Rochdale’s canals.

The charity, founded and run by eco-activist Lizzie Carr, uses activities such as paddle boarding to try and help clear up plastic from our rivers and take samples of the waters so micro plastic levels can be analysed.  

Carr began paddle boarding in 2014 as a form of rehabilitation after battling cancer. 

“Paddle boarding changed my life. It helped me to see the sheer volume of plastic waste clogging our waterways but also gave me a way to reconnect with nature.”

The clean up is free and accessible for all and no previous experience of paddle boarding is necessary.  

In return, Plastic Patrol asks participants to pay a ‘nature tax’ by collecting plastic waste and logging it on the Plastic Patrol app, which is also free.  

The app currently holds the largest bank of plastic data for the UK’s inland waterways on record and is committed to adding to the valuable evidence through its passionate volunteers. 

The charity has set a goal of logging one million pieces of plastic in 2019 to represent the one million marine animals killed each year due to plastic waste.

Carr is no stranger to setting ambitious goals – in 2016, she became the first person to paddle board the length of England’s waterways solo and unsupported, a 400-mile journey in total.  

A year later, she became the first woman to paddle board across the English Channel and followed that up the following year by paddle boarding the Hudson River, covering 170 miles in 8 days.  

Throughout these journeys, she was collecting thousands of pieces of plastic and samples of the waters.

According to Plastic Patrol, 80% of water debris starts from inland waterways before flowing into the seas and oceans.  The charity is dedicated to trying to prevent this process.

The samples collected by the charity will be analysed by scientists at the University of Nottingham.  They will look to gain insight into trends and patterns and develop evidence to inform public policy on better packaging solutions.

“This will help gather even more data from other parts of the country, giving us invaluable insight into plastic waste issues,” added Carr.

The clean ups are not restricted to paddle boarding – there are yoga and parkour activities to help clean up litter in parks, mountains and streets.

“My hope is that by running these clean ups, others will experience the same positive benefits as I did,” said Carr.

“By inviting people to join us on activity-led litter picks across the UK this summer – we’re providing a great opportunity to get out in nature, try new activities and understand the extent of the problem we face with plastic pollution.”

To book a space on the free clean up visit Plastic Patrol’s website for more information.  Those involved are meeting at Rochdale canal, Windsor Street, Rochdale, OL11 1NA.  Look for the Plastic patrol flags and brightly coloured paddle boards.

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