Leg one started with a bang… or rather a canal juice pong. 

The launch was great to get a bit of exposure from BBC North West (even though they got Erin and I mixed up on the footage) and to have local group Plastic Free Chester and the amazing Tim and Ella Meek from Kids Against Plastic join us.  I set off in the black ninja (one of Fathoms Free’s marine plastic kayaks – named by me), with a belly full of cake and coffee.  

Within two hours we had to regroup though and squash the bottles we had into the back hatch of the kayaks so we had space to take on more.  It was crazy the amount of rubbish we found just outside Ellesmere Port.  We collected almost 350 plastic bottles in the first morning after which we had to stop as we ran out of space!  It was shocking the amount we picked up on the first day.  Mostly avoidable plastics like plastic bottles, food wrappers and the ever evil polystyrene.

 

I had arranged with some of the Local Authorities to recycle a lot along the way but after meeting the Canal and River Trust Environment team at the launch they are arranging for our rubbish to be collected from canal side which is ace.  We picked up a staggering amount in day one, over 600 pieces in total. Thankfully the rest of leg 1 was far less plastic orientated and canal juice ming than day one and we pootled through a lot of rather beautiful countryside interspersed with the odd collection of curious cows and super cute ducklings.

The team were great, with everyone chipping in to help others get in and out of kayaks and canoes and helping with the portaging around the locks.  We were soon singing river songs and cracking inappropriate jokes to pass the time in between locks and litter picking.  It is always interesting to see how the team works together.  Very quickly we all meshed well though and helped each other out and the whole week was a real pleasure with everyone bringing their own personality and quirks to the week.  Amy brought us some hilarious sing alongs, Lucy some bendy yoga, Kerry-Anne a lot of passion for the environment, Fran a super scary teacher voice when needed to fend off troublesome kids and Jessie whose pronunciation of spray decks in her Oz accent provided us with hours of innuendo.  Our camp spots varied from wild camps next to the canal, to pub campsites, a falconry centre and sports field.  Huge appreciation to those who put us up for the night.

 

Erin and I are enjoying a weekend off visiting my old friend Andy in Shropshire and camping at a farm that makes its own ice cream. Winning at life! A well needed yoga session this morning helped to iron out some of the kayak kinks but I’m starting to feel the onset of the claw again this year with creaky, clicky stiff hands.  All worth it if we can get more people to think about their plastic consumption.

It is now thought that over 9 million pieces of plastic enter our oceans every year.  Most of it is avoidable and we can all make a big impact to this by reducing our plastic footprint.  My top tips:

  • carry a reusable bottle and coffee cup
  • refuse straws
  • use a tote bag instead of a plastic one
  • make your own lunch in a box
  • think carefully about the snacks you buy and the packaging they come in

 

I feel like we now need to concentrate on finding sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging and it seems that food packaging and plastic bottles are the main culprits to tackle.  So I would encourage you to select your favourite plastic wrapped food, save up your wrappers and send them back to the manufacturers with a note asking them what they are doing to reduce their impact on the environment. It is time that manufacturers started to design products with the end in mind.  If brands like Lush and Patagonia can make huge profits with sustainable values there is no reason why others can’t follow.

Tweet your actions to me using #BeAPlasticDisruptor