Campaign launched to 'clean up the Thames and help save world's oceans'

Litter gets carried out to sea on the tide without volunteers cleaning up the foreshore at the Isle of Dogs.

If volunteers do not clean up the foreshore at the Isle of Dogs, litter gets carried out to sea on the tide - Credit: Thames21

A campaign to clean up the Thames and rivers up and down the country is being launched to prevent litter ending up in the world’s oceans. 

Organisers from the Thames21 and Hubbub environment charities are battling to reduce litter - especially plastics - polluting rivers and eventually being carried out to sea.

Hauling garbage from Isle of Dogs foreshore... even this supermarket trolley

Hauling garbage from Isle of Dogs foreshore... even this supermarket trolley - Credit: Thames21

The campaign, which launched in Docklands today (May 14), calls for businesses, community groups and the public to get involved along the Thames and River Lea.   

“Most plastics in the oceans are carried out by rivers,” Hubbub’s co-founder Gavin Ellis said. “We are highlighting the connection between plastics in the oceans and litter in our streets. 

Rubbish fished up in Millwall Docks that could have ended up in the Thames and out to sea.

Rubbish fished up in Millwall Docks that could have ended up in the Thames and out to sea. - Credit: Thames21

“There is increased concern about the amount of litter in public areas and green spaces as lockdown restrictions are lifted.” 

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The campaign starting as lockdown restrictions end involves litter picking events and setting up more rubbish bins in the streets, while urging offices, pubs, bars, cafes and community groups to join in.  

The nationwide Treasure Your River programme aims to clean up the Avon, Forth, Mersey, Severn, Taff and Trent as well as the Thames and River Lea, supported by the Canal and River Trust which looks after Britain’s waterways.  

Robotic 'pirate' boat launched at Millwall Docks by Hubbub charity to capture litter

Robotic 'pirate' boat launched at Millwall Docks by Hubbub charity to capture litter - Credit:  Matt Alexander/PA Wire

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It fires off with “pirate boats” launched at the Docklands sailing centre in the Millwall Docks, which are going on litter patrols along east London’s foreshores and canals. 

Among the worst litter spots on the Thames is the Isle of Dogs, where rubbish gets caught up in the river bend as the tide goes out. 

Plastic washed up in bend of the Thames at the Isle of Dogs

Plastic washed up in bend of the Thames at the Isle of Dogs - Credit: Thames21

Volunteers from Thames21, which was set up nearly 20 years ago, have regularly turned up to clear the mess before it gets carried out to sea.

Appreciation of nature has risen after a year of lockdown, a survey by the Hubbub charity has found. The new clean-up gives people a chance to get involved and help protect rivers through simple changes such as taking rubbish home or joining the army of regular volunteers.     

Organisers are urging people, businesses and community groups to sign up to the Treasure Your River campaign online. 

Firing up the 'Jolly Roger' to capture rubbish that ends up in the oceans.

Firing up the 'Jolly Roger' to capture rubbish that ends up in the oceans. - Credit: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

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