One of my action-points in my blog-post last week was to arrange a litter-pick to try to make a dent in the rubbish I encountered, in particular a small portion of the bank near Paddington Meadows that I had previously encountered. Today I was joined by 3 kind volunteers from Warrington Rowing Club – Anne, Terry, and Liz – and together we “paid that spot a visit”.
We worked solidly for about an hour on just that roughly 3x10m patch, fighting our way through invasive balsam as we went, and managed to fill 9 large bin-bags with mostly single-use plastic bottles, some expanded-polystrene packaging material, a single kids trainer, and some other “goodies”.
Liz told me about a water-based litter-pick that was organised at the club last year. It showed that the problem, far from limited to this patch, is if anything worse all along at least the local stretch of the river. Considering the River Mersey alone is 70 miles long, not including its many tributaries, and assuming (reasonably I suspect) that this problem is not confined to just our stretch of the river, nor indeed to just this river / our country – we have an alarming problem on our hands.
Potential Action Points
We had some useful discussions while working – some suggestions for further action raised then and since include:
- Do this more frequently – at least monthly and ideally more often – from both the shore and the river in boats.
- Liaise with local sports groups, to see if we can start a local initiative (informal or otherwise) to eliminate single-use-plastic from our training-sessions and events.
- Consider whether our own club could do more to further reduce waste, including at events, in addition to our existing “no single use plastic” internal club policy.
- Could the plastic be more easily caught “higher up the chain”? Litter-bins and public-awareness would be important. I even wonder whether some system for making it easier to intercept this litter before it gets tangled in the river-bank foliage, or worse makes it out to sea, might be feasible. Perhaps buoyed nets immediately up/down-steam of weirs – with thought given to ecological implications (e.g. allowing fish to get past, animals to not get stuck) – which catch litter allowing it to periodically be easily gathered and disposed of safely, is the seed of a good idea?
- I am considering whether starting a Warrington Rivers Cleanup group is feasible, and how it might function (incl. its remit, relationship with other groups, how much time I would have to offer to it, etc).
I for one am going to consider & discuss the options further and will report back here with any updates!