THE HUDSON PROJECT

Next week I'm heading off to take on my next big paddle challenge. It's been months in the making to bring it all together but as the days creep up it's all getting much more real - and I'm so I'm so frikking excited to share it with you. 

...WHERE?
I'm taking Plastic Patrol to New York - the land of opportunity.  My plan is to paddle board the tidal length of the Hudson River launching from Albany in New York State on 6th September and finish the foot of the Statue of Liberty 275km (170 miles) later in the heart of New York City as the river meets the Atlantic Ocean 9 days later on 15th September. But there's a lot more to it than this... 

... WHY?

So many reasons!

It's always been my mission to rid the world of single use plastics and use my voice to campaign and draw attention to the issue of plastic pollution, ocean health and, ultimately, climate change through adventure.

I launched Plastic Patrol in the UK two years ago and so far more than 800 people have joined me on the waterways to remove plastic. We've intercepted more than 100 ton bags of waste this summer alone and it's making a difference - every piece removed before it reaches the oceans is a victory!

I also developed the Plastic Patrol App to crowdsource and map important data (take a look here, its amazing!) about the types of plastic we are finding/ collecting to make sure the big brands responsible are held accountable. So far we've recorded more than 50,000 examples of plastic waste from 15 countries globally - and counting... 

Plastic Patrol - Rochdale (65 of 126).jpg

Essentially, in the UK we've seen progress in the last couple of years and the huge groundswell of public support for change has driven legislative amendments. Our collective voice has forced government and companies re-think their approach to plastic use and we're not finished yet. 

In America it's a slightly different story.  It's one of the world’s biggest consumers of single use plastic with 80% discarded after just one use and, on top of that, climate change scepticism is encouraged by the current government. The movement towards change is gaining momentum and passionate individuals and organisations are pushing for change. I want to bring my platforms and voice to generate further awareness and support for this cause because, let's face it, that's what it takes - more pressure from more people and time isn't on our side anymore! 

I started my campaigning against single use plastics three years ago when I read that 80 percent of marine debris starts from inland sources, yet all I saw was focus on the beaches and oceans. We need to tackle the issue from its source - our rivers, canals and inland - before it reaches the oceans where most of it sinks and is irretrievable.

The Hudson is one of the most well-known and iconic rivers in the world with a huge population living along its shores. I will be there for the APP World Tour (Plastic Patrol is the charity partner) and want to use my time there as effectively as possible... so I am calling on American's to join the fight and take action to make a real difference in efforts to resolve the global problem of plastics choking our seas. 

... HOW?

This is a paddle boarding adventure with purpose. I will combine environmental  research, community beach cleans and legacy partnerships to bring the Plastic Patrol ethos to America. 

I'm working closely with Hudson River Park Trust to identify plastic hotspots on the river to collect water samples for micro plastic analysis. We will compare findings against an existing archive gathered by the Trust and share results with you. 

I'll also be BETA testing some incredible fin technology on my board. It will be microchipped to allow me to measure multiple water based factors including temperature and motion characteristics. It's the first time this technology has been used on the Hudson River and the data gathered will not only become a baseline for future research but also be shared with scientists looking to understanding trends and ocean warming indicators on inland waterways and how it correlates with ocean data.

The Plastic Patrol app will enable me photograph, geo-tag and log every single piece of plastic I encounter along the route, much like I did when I paddled the length of England two years ago captured more than 3000 examples of the problem. It gives undeniable, visual evidence of the scale along every body of water and helps locate pressure points for clean up action. Everything I find will appear on this map.

Plastic Patrol Map

 

Finally, Plastic Patrol clean ups will come to America - something I said I've wanted to introduce out there as a concept for a long time. I am inviting people to join me on a beach and paddle clean up of the Hudson River in three locations:

  • Sunday, September 9th, 3:30-5:30, Kaal Rock Park in Poughkeepsie
  • Wednesday, September 12th, 5:30-7:00, Croton Point Park in Croton-on-the-Hudson
  • Friday, September 14th, 5:30-6:30, Pier 26 Hudson River Park, NY

Anyone who wants to come along can RSVP here. And if you can't make it but want to show support it would be appreciated if you could share this page with your friends too. 

Everyone who attends the clean ups will be encouraged to log everything they collect in the Plastic Patrol app (but anyone can contribute, you don't have to be at clean ups!)  - so we can see exactly what has been identified along the river and where. 

It's an incredible milestone in the journey for Plastic Patrol and whilst I'm obviously nervous, I can't wait to get paddling. 

 

Lizzie Carr on Plastic Patrol

I want to take this opportunity to also thank some incredible people who have worked so hard to help make this mission happen. Firstly, Jana, an amazing volunteer from the US who read about my campaigning in United Airlines magazine and got in touch. She's am amazing human being and has dedicated hours helping make everything come together because of her passion for the important cause and she deserves a massive shout out!! 

I would also like the thank REN Skincare for believing in the The Hudson Project sponsoring it to bring this big idea to life. 

Finally, thank you to the APP World Tour for supporting the Plastic Patrol mission as charity partner for the Tour and bringing the environmental message to elite paddle sports. And to Riverkeeper - the custodians of the Hudson River - who have helped the beach clean ups come to life by imparting their knowledge and resource of this waterway. 

You can follow my journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and if any one has any more questions I'd be more than happy to answer - just drop me a message on social media. 

Exploring the Lake District

I’ve always championed Britain as a world-class adventure destination. Our rugged landscapes and challenging terrain can rival almost anywhere in the world and the unpredictable weather conditions that come as part of this only add to the adventures.

We don’t need to travel to far-flung destinations across the world to get a taste of the wild. It’s not all about world first ascents or crossing remote jungles, it’s about reconnecting with nature, which ultimately, pushes us to reconnect with ourselves.

One of my favourite places to visit in the UK is the Lake District. The adventure mecca for almost all outdoor lovers – both on land and by water – and no matter how often I return the views and landscapes presents themselves to me in an entirely new way.

On my most recent visit to the Lake District I opted to explore mostly by water – either on my paddleboard or by sea kayak (my first time in one!) I’ve paddle boarded on Derwent and Windermere but this time I dedicated my three-day visit exclusively getting under the skin Ullswater. It did not disappoint.

The spectacular views across Ullswater – both on the shore and from the water itself – provided, with clarifying force, a healthy dose of perspective as the magnitude of the mountains towered all around me.

The hotel I stayed in, Another Place - The Lake, is situated near the north tip of Ullswater where the views consist of wide, open countryside. As you look southwards the landscape transforms, by contrast, into craggy mountaintops. In the distance, on a clear day, there are views of Helvellyn on the east too.

Ullswater itself, unlike other popular lakeland spots near by, has very little boat traffic especially once peak season is over. The historic steamer (which I took a trip on during my visit) runs daily and takes an 8 mile tour of the Lake stopping at some key landmarks on the way, but when there’s so little movement on the water and no winds it’s a shame not to paddle it.

At almost the halfway point of Ullswater between north and south lies a small island about 600 metres from the shoreline. It’s completely uninhabited and just the sort of gem that’s too tempting to paddle past. I reached the island, moored my board, and climbed to the highest point – a secluded spot in the middle of Ullswater from which to look out and marvel at the panoramic views that enveloped me. There wasn't a single person or boat in sight and the road was too far in the distance to even see a car. I was completely isolated and it was incredible. When, in this day and age, do we get to experience remoteness like that? 

The autumn colours along the waterline changed with altitude and were stunning.  I saw shades of yellow, red and orange that you can only find on autumn leaves and is a big part of the reason this is my favourite time of year to both paddle and visit the Lakes. I could see why Wordsworth used this place as inspiration to pen his most famous poem, Daffodils, even if that was in spring. 

I could write for hours about the beauty of everything I saw but I don't think I could do it justice... so here are some of the highlights from my visit to the Lake District in pictures. 

 Hiking down to Ullswater with my paddle board (can you see the little island in the distance?) 

Hiking down to Ullswater with my paddle board (can you see the little island in the distance?) 

 SUP's ready for a spin

SUP's ready for a spin

 That view of the mountains that envelope Ullswater - priceless. 

That view of the mountains that envelope Ullswater - priceless. 

 Exploring Ullswater at sunset by Sea Kayak

Exploring Ullswater at sunset by Sea Kayak

 Views over Ullswater, Lake District. 

Views over Ullswater, Lake District. 

 

 

Crossing the English Channel by SUP

As the paddleboard rides the water and the blue sky meets blue sea, an expanse of nothingness lies ahead. For the first time, suddenly, I realise I can see no land at all. I felt isolated, alone and devoid of direction. It's 10am and I’m five miles off the English coast. But I’ve got 19 miles still to go, so I dip my paddle into the water and push ahead.

This is what happened last month when I became the first woman to stand up paddleboard solo across the English Channel, monitoring plastic pollution and taking samples for plastic analysis en route. 

 

This journey felt like a natural next step to my 400 mile SUP expedition in 2016  that took me across the length of England and was the starting point of my nationwide #PlasticPatrol campaign. 

“YOU CAN NEVER CROSS THE OCEAN UNLESS YOU HAVE COURAGE TO LOSE SIGHT OF THE SHORE.”

I took up paddle boarding recreationally – on a bit of a whim after illness – three years ago. It was, at first, a low impact way of restoring my strength but I was quickly hooked and spent most of my free time out on the water. 

Fast forward three years to now, having quit my job, got over my illness and completed two world first paddle boarding challenges, it all feels very surreal. 

THE JOURNEY

I left Rye Harbour on the morning of 18th May. The support boat skipper gave the final nod for the crossing just 18 hours earlier and although conditions didn't look perfect - there was a window good enough for a crossing. I'd already waited almost three weeks for the weather patterns to change and apart from this day there didn't look to be another slot in the foreseeable - so we chanced it. 

This fast turnaround meant a frantic, last-minute dash to get myself organised and I drove down to the South Coast late the night before feeling flustered and anxious. 

It was a 4am start (I woke up early - the alarm was set for 5am), and by the time I reached the harbour the sun had risen and I was looking out to flat, calm and glassy ocean and clear blue skies. The gentle northerly wind would propel me through the waters towards France.

The conditions were far from my nightmares I'd had of crashing waves, huge swells and gusty winds. I’d prepared myself mentally and physically for the absolute worst so the stillness I was looking out to helped ease the nerves before I set off.

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For the first five miles I could look back and see the British coastline. I enjoyed watching landmarks get smaller, knowing I was making distance. But after an hour or so, when land hadn't disappeared - it got demoralising.

By the time I reached the start of the shipping lane the coastline had completely disappeared. Paddling in an expanse of blue and away from land goes against everything you're advised with paddle boarding. Stay near the shore, they say, and if you can't see the ocean floor you've gone too far out. If you can't see land - you're in real trouble.  I had absolutely no markers - land or sea - to pinpoint myself and measure distance. It was me and a couple of gigantic cargo ships for company. On the one hand I was acutely aware of the magic in that moment and I wanted to soak up the experience, but that didn't mean I wasn't scared. 

"Lizzie, can you paddle a little faster for a while. There's a cargo ship about 6 miles off and it's on course for you," the skipper shouted at me from the distance. 

I picked up the pace for a good ten minutes, edging myself out of its path. The visibility was fairly low and whilst the skipper had a radar on-board to track ships, they were only coming into my view from 3-4 miles away which, by this point, they were like giants towering above me.  

GETTING PREPARED

I'd equipped myself in every practical sense – hydration packs to keep fuelled, carbohydrate gels to prevent cramping, neoprene boots to avoid hypothermia. And I had trained hard to deal with the physical challenges but, despite my efforts, there was one crucial point that I completely over looked.

I hadn’t considered, let alone planned for, the fact I might get seasick!

By mile six - as I'd entered the shipping lanes - I was feeling queasy. Initially I put it down to the release of tension leading up to the day, but by mile eight I was feeling pretty awful.

That was the first moment I questioned my ability to complete the challenge. Mindset is as important as physical strength and stamina and my confidence was falling – fast. I tried not to think about the nausea, but the monotony of paddling lends itself to doing just that!

I hit mile ten – in the depths of the British shipping lanes - and waved down the support boat. The advice was to eat something, but I couldn’t. Even so much as the thought of food made me want to throw up. I lay back on my board contemplating the rest of the journey – all 14 miles of it – and whilst doing so loosened my buoyancy aid. I felt almost immediately better before sitting up, taking in a deep breath, and ploughing on. I had to finish this. 

WATER SAMPLING FOR PLASTICS

By mile 14, as the sickness started to subside, I’d collected three water samples and counted several pieces of plastic I’d seen floating in the ocean – a few bottles, a couple of bags and a huge piece of polystyrene almost as big as me!

The water sampling involved dropping a net into the water and trawling it along just under the surface of the water for around 2km (20 minutes) each time. I’d then siphon the debris from the net into a small glass jar – which has now gone off to University of Plymouth for analysis.

We’re looking for evidence of micro plastics and microbeads – the small (often unseen to the naked eye) fragments of plastic that are most harmful to marine species and, it turns out, are now filtering through into the human food chain causing all sorts of health implications!

“Every piece of plastic we intercept before it reaches our ocean is a victory.”

THE CHALLENGES

Like everyone, I can sometimes pile pressure on myself and hold high-expectations of what I “should” be achieving. Having the courage to dream big and follow my dreams without letting fear dictate or control decisions has been my outlook - and in a sense my mantra - since quitting my job two years ago.

Before I left for the Channel crossing my brother gently reminded me, that despite my ambition, I’m neither an endurance athlete nor a professional SUP racer. I haven’t build up to this challenge with a team of nutritionists, trainers and physiotherapists. It’s just me – an eager yet determined novice – lacking in refined technique and experience but bursting with commitment and passion for the cause that I’m fighting for.

His words carried me through some of the hardest parts of the challenge.

“You can do this. And when you start doubting yourself, tell yourself this:

“I can, I will, I must."

By the time I reached the French shipping lanes I'd been paddling for over five hours. I had found my rhythm, controlled my seasickness and allowed myself to visualise and look forward to completing the challenge. 

Two years ago the French authorities put a ban on any human powered crafts travelling across the English Channel - excluding swimmers. This meant I had to jump on the support boast as we hit the French waters and speed through the shipping lane until I was out the other side.

The route I was travelling would take me to Bolougne, further down the French coast than Calais,  allowing me to to make up the distance I lost in the shipping lane. Although being on the boat gave me some time to refuel, we were travelling fast and being whipped by the ever increasing wind was making me really cold. By the time we'd reached the end of the shipping lane my muscles had started to seize up and the I was shivering uncontrollably. 

I had wrapped up warm and kept piling on the layers which helped and I took my neoprene socks off in favour of going barefoot for a bit.  but I was keen to get back on the water as quickly as possible. Paddling would warm me back up.

It was quite soon after getting back on the water that I saw my first glimpse of land. Visibility was dropping and the weather was taking a turn for the worse. By mile 20 conditions making it really tough. I was starting to feel cramp in my calves and the change in wind speed and direction meant I was fatiguing quickly.  

At mile 22 I could make out two big towers in the distance.  "That’s Boulonge Harbour!" the skipper shouter over to me. I needed to get in between those two points to formally reach french shores.  Seeing those towers gave me a new lease of life and I found energy I didn't know I had. I dug a little bit deeper and pushed on towards the shoreline.

Reaching the finishing point was a surreal moment. Firstly getting my head around that fact that I had taken my paddle board from one country to another was hard enough, but that coupled with the fact I'd completed a world first in the process was almost too much. 

The weather was getting worse as I finished - dark clouds, strong winds and big swells - so I jumped quickly on the boat, deflated by board, and sped back to England. Not even the chance for some cheese and biscuits on French soil! 

And now? It’s mixed emotions. When a challenge finishes there is a sense of emptiness. You’ve dedicated weeks and months to training for it and making sacrifices in life that, in just one day, it’s all over.

I’ve already found a way to fill that void. This summer I’m staging a series of #plasticpatrol clean ups in 14 locations across the UK. People can register here: www.plasticpatrol.co.uk and either join me on their own boards or register for one of the boards I’ll be bringing with me. I’ll be supplying litter pickers too. It's all about getting outside, enjoying our beautiful waterways and paddling to picking up plastics: getting active for a good cause! 

I’ve also just launched the Plastic Patrol app (available for IoS in the app store now) so anyone unable to attend the clean-ups can still contribute. The app can be used anywhere in the world and the idea is that people photograph the plastic they find/collect in our waterways/beaches or even mountains so we can start to build what is essentially a heat map of the issue. 

Anyone that posts their finds on social media using the hashtag will find it pulls into the global map too. Crowdsourcing this data globally is a united and powerful way to campaign and lobby for change. We live in an age where people can rally together for a common cause through technology  and really instigate change, so by harnessing this and channeling it into a single campaign we have a strong voice to drive action!  

 

My most ambitious challenge yet

Next week I'm taking on my most ambitious challenge yet: to solo paddle board across the English Channel - from Dungeness in England to Boulonge in France. Sky has been following my journey so you can watch more about my plans here

It's 24 miles of unpredictable open ocean - strong currents, choppy waters, and relentless winds, and will involve navigating the busiest shipping lane in the world.

 

Lizzie Outside Channel Crossing

To say I'm not nervous would be a lie. And whilst I've spent the last few months preparing for the challenging conditions I'll be facing, it's hard to shake off the feeling that this is beyond my ability.  

As the challenge draws closer I've been getting more advice from people trying to prepare me for the difficulties I might encounter. Whilst I appreciate the input, it's also  been chipping away at my confidence and the moments of self-doubt and fear are becoming increasingly frequent. 

Being brave isn’t about not feeling scared. Real courage is all about overcoming your fears.

People tell us to be scared of daring or dreaming greatly, because of the chance of failure and level of risk. I'm aware that I'm not an endurance athlete, in fact, I only started paddle boarding about two years ago. I don't have a team of coaches, sport psychologists or physios working with me, and my technique could probably do with some improvements. But I don't want to be dissuaded from achieving what's important to me.  And sometimes it's the doggedly determined rather than the brilliant who succeed.  

Lizzie Carr Paddle Boarding
I took the one less travelled by. And that made all the difference.
— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

But despite the physical and mental demands, this challenge is ambitious for an altogether different reason. I want this journey to make a difference. Its purpose is bigger than a world first endurance challenge; there's a major environmental mission at play too.

I will be building on the #PlasticPatrol map I plotted last year by logging every piece of plastic I encounter (and apparently there's a lot!).  I'll also be gathering water samples with a trawler net skimming the water surface at every fourth mile, and these will be analysed for microplastics on my return. 

80% of marine debris comes from inland sources

I've spent the last year championing our inland waterways, starting a nationwide campaign to rid them of plastic pollution that, inevitably, will end up in our oceans. Building a connection between where the problem starts - on our canals and rivers, with where it ends up, and the vast quantity out there is fundamental to awareness and driving change.

We all read these overwhelmingly large statistics about plastic pollution in our oceans, but scaling this back to a single journey will create a picture of the plastic problem in a real, human way - supported by undeniable evidence from the data I'm gathering.  

Lizzie Carr English Channel

Getting involved with #PlasticPatrol

This year I'd love for you to get involved in the #PlasticPatrol campaign. I'm organising a series of clean ups across the UK this summer - armed with paddle boards and litter picks. It's all completely free, you just need to come along and get stuck in. Find out all the details here.

I'm also developing a #PLASTICPATROL APP that will be out this month. This has enormous potential to drive change, and the data we collect will help identify trends and hotspots so we can lobby for resource in specific areas and target clean up initiatives properly. We can use this to make real and immediate change. 

In the UK alone we spend more than 1 billion pounds a year combatting litter and plastic pollution - think how that money could be better spent if tackling pollution was more educated! 

Autumn Adventures in the Lake District

I arrived in the Lake District on Thursday afternoon to this view - if that wasn't enough to tempt me out onto the water on my paddle board, nothing would be. 

 View of Windermere from the window of my room at Low Wood Hotel.

View of Windermere from the window of my room at Low Wood Hotel.

I'd driven for almost four hours and although it was getting late in the day I wanted to stretch my legs. I quickly unpacked my stuff, picked up my paddle board bag and hurried down to the water's edge to pump it up. If I could get onto Windermere before sunset I'd be able to watch it go down behind the Coniston Fells from the water. 

 Sunset paddle on Windermere.

Sunset paddle on Windermere.

The winds were high and sudden gusts made the water quite choppy, but being in the middle of the water without a soul in sight watching the sunset in the distance was one of the main reasons I was drawn the to Lakes.  I paddled downstream and although it would have been nice to sit and watch the sun go down it was far too choppy for that. Instead, I jumped about a boat and got a lift back upstream, watching it from the deck instead. Don't judge me. 

Boating on Windermere

Instead of paddling back upstream against the gusty headwinds winds and darkening skies, I jumped aboard the boat and watched the final moments from there, relishing every second of it before heading off for a couple of evening beers. 

Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset.

I only had a couple of days in the Lakes, and I wanted to make the most of it so the next morning I got up before sunrise and headed down to the water again. 

 Launching from Low Wood Marina, Windermere with the hotel in the backdrop 

Launching from Low Wood Marina, Windermere with the hotel in the backdrop 

The heavy fog (I mean really heavy!) meant I didn't get to see anything that remotely resembled a sunrise. I'd also forgotten my neoprene socks and the pontoon had iced over that night as I stood on it barefoot, so launching into the water couldn't have come more quickly. 

 Low visility over Windermere.

Low visility over Windermere.

It was the first time I'd been out on the water in these kind of conditions - I couldn't see more than 10 metres in front of me and although it was quite intimidating at first, the water was so calm and peaceful that it actually felt quite magical. 

I spent the rest of the day on Iand taking on some trails and admiring the views overlooking the Lakes. 

 Lake Windermere with a snow topped view of Coniston Fells in the distance.

Lake Windermere with a snow topped view of Coniston Fells in the distance.

 Horsey! 

Horsey! 

 Autumn colours 

Autumn colours 

Later that evening I hit the water again to end my day with a relaxing paddle, the waters still remarkably calm. Sadly, the sunset wasn't as spectacular as my first evening but what I missed out on in views was made up for in company.  My fellow OS 'Get Outside' champ and badass adventurer Sean Conway, who entrusted me to take him out for his second ever SUP, joined me for the evening. 

 Paddling on Windermere with Sean 

Paddling on Windermere with Sean 

Paddle boarding on Windermere

We finished what was a pretty perfect way to spend a Friday evening back at Low Wood Hotel overlooking Windermere with a drink and an open log fire, pleased that neither of us had to test out the water temperatures.  

 Open log fire at Low Wood Hotel 

Open log fire at Low Wood Hotel 

The next morning I left to explore what other waters, meres and lakes were on offer and I wasn't disappointed. 

 Thirlmere Reservoir

Thirlmere Reservoir

 Overlooking Derwent Water 

Overlooking Derwent Water 

 Autumn colours on Derwent Water.

Autumn colours on Derwent Water.

I drove up to Thirlmere Reservoir where I spent the morning before heading towards Keswick for an afternoon on Derwent Water chatting to kayakers making the most of the mild weather, exploring the little islands that sit nestled amongst the water and watching the wildlife. 

 Goodbye Lake District

Goodbye Lake District

As I packed up my paddle board that afternoon the heaven's opened and the forecasted downpour finally arrived - just in time for my drive home. 

And that was the end of my 48 hour Lake District adventure. Until next time, Lake District. Well, in two weeks - I can't keep away for long! 

With thanks to:
Low Wood Hotel
Low Wood Marina
Cumbria Tourism

#PlasticPatrol | Part Two

In May this year I paddle boarded the length of England - 400 miles from Surrey to Lake District - all in the name of #PlasticPatrol.

During that 22 day challenge I photographed and location-tagged every single piece of plastic I saw along my route, and then uploaded them onto a map to scale my findings to locate the problem areas across our waterways.

Two months on and the mapping is complete. I've been able to identify where the hotspots are. As you might expect, the more densely populated areas (in and out of major towns and cities), the more plastic pollution I plotted. But there were some areas more severely polluted, and spanned over longer stretches of waterways, than others. 

But the four areas that stood out the most were: Coventry, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester. 

The plan now? I'm going to re-visit these hotspots and give them a spruce up with support from double Olympic silver medalist, Rich Hounslow, who has just stepped off the plane from Rio.  

Starting on 19th September, we'll spend three days and picking up and removing all the plastic we encounter in these places. And I would LOVE you to join us. Whether that's on the water with your own board or canoe, or simply walking along the towpaths. How you do it doesn't matter, what's important is that you want to help make a difference.  

  • Tamworth - 19th September - 10.30am start
  • Nuneaton - 19th September - 2.30pm start
  • Stoke on Trent - 20th September - 10.30am start
  • Manchester - 21st September  - 10.30am start

All you need to do is keep an eye on the tracker on my homepage (it's very accurate, don't worry) and come and join us if and when we're nearby. 

You don't need to bring anything - the wonderful folk at Canal and River Trust have that all sorted. Just come along and get involved.

And what if you're not nearby or can't make it but want to pledge support? Fear not. The map I created to plot all my plastic findings is set up to now capture your #PlasticPatrol findings too. Simply make sure you use the hashtag and add your location to the photo and tah-dah, you've played a part too. 

Roll on Monday, and I hope to see you all over the next few days. 

Lizzie x

 

THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE

Remember the iconic Banksy drawing of the girl chasing a red balloon with the caption ‘There is always hope’ planted next to it?

A little cliche, I know, but it resonates strongly with me and I have a print hanging in my flat. It implies that hope is essential and that hope gives us the motivation to continue on in life despite the challenges, set backs or disappointments we’re facing. And we all need a sprinkling of that from time to time.

Over the last three weeks of my #SuperSUPEngland challenge I’ve witnessed humanity at both ends of the spectrum; the total idiocy and disregard that some people have for our planet, countered by the love, goodwill and kindness that I received along my 400 mile route. And, because of the latter, there is still plenty of hope left in me for humankind to make a difference.

The challenge, now, is sustaining that hope. And what better time to talk about how and why than World Ocean Day.

You see, I paddle boarded 400 miles across England to make a point. Whilst the global issue of plastic polluting our oceans is a hugely important one I struggle to get my head around why there isn’t bigger focus on the fact nearly 80% of it starts inland – on our canals and rivers.

That makes it a local issue and by drawing on this very fact it becomes very much our responsibility. Once we scale up the problem and look at it globally it transforms into an overwhelmingly large and often meaningless statistic far beyond our ability to grasp. The result? Simply cover our eyes, stick our fingers in our ears and ignore it.

When it’s a global problem it suddenly becomes everyone elses problem. But it isn’t. It’s yours, mine and their problem. It’s our planet, it’s our future generations, it’s our health and livelihoods. It’s a collective problem that flows from our very doorsteps.

In our lifetime, and under our (mis)management, we’re facing a serious, immediate and very real threat to the our oceans that, if we don’t start controlling, will leave them in a state of dire disrepair that, sadly, we won’t be able to rectify.

Plastic is an entirely man-made material and therefore we are wholly responsible for the destruction and devastation it’s causing to our oceans globally – and canals and river locally. There’s not way of absolving blame or pointing fingers elsewhere. Each and everyone one of us – unknowingly or otherwise – has contributed.

By plotting plastic hotspots and pressure points in our canals and rivers up and down the country my aim was to draw out the how serious the problem is inland – places we all recognise, visit and hopefully feel the desire to protect from plastic pollution.

Cleaning up our waterways not only improves the aesthetics and desirability of the area around it and allows wildlife to thrive but it goes a long way to resolving the global threat we are under.

If you don’t think it’s bad take a look at some of my findings here and visit the map I’ve started plotting with more than 1000 images from my route.

I’m hopeful in the belief that my actions will make an impact and get people to think serious about how to address the problem. I’ll stay persistent in the pursuit of change and focused on my determination to make a difference.

You might be happy to trade nature with plastic, but I certainly am not.

There is always hope.

THE CANALS ARE CHOKING

As part of the #SuperSUPEngland challenge I want to try and capture the reality of the threat we’re facing from plastic pollution along the waterways. Just in the few months of training for this challenge I’ve seen witnessed some fairly astonishing sights on the canals from buggies and umbrellas to traffic cones and dismantled scooters… but the amount of plastic I’ve seen in the form of bags, bottles, packets and even kids toys is both shocking and saddening. The health of our waterways is suffering – and eventually this will end up in our oceans causing all sorts of problems. It’s a problem that we can all address by making some very simple changes… something to think about.

This tracker will plot what I’m seeing in real-time and location specific so I can start to paint a picture of the scale of the situation along the country, bringing it all together visually in one place for the very first time.