Top Tips for Repurposing your River Rubbish

There are loads of useful tips and advice in the toolkit that you can download from the link below.  More information also set out below.

Bottle Tops and Hard Plastic

There are loads of projects repurposing and upcycling bottle tops now.  Look for a local one near you to avoid increasing the carbon footprint.  Our bottle tops and other hard plastic (HDPE) were dropped down to Odyssey Innovation on Erin’s way home.  Along with Palm Equipment Odyssey Innovation then turned the hard plastic into kayaks.  We were so lucky to be able to paddle the worlds first ever marine recycled kayaks for our length of Wales trip.  So we paddled kayaks made from marine plastic, picked up plastic in them and sent that plastic back to them to be made into more kayaks.  I love the circularity of that!


We also found homes for many of the balls we picked up as these were collected up, washed and taken off to dog walk groups and dog rescue homes.

Food Wrappers

Terracycle recycle for FREE many hard to recycle items that the Local Authorities do not.  These include crisp packets, biscuit and cake wrappers and cigarette waste, all of which are common cleanup treasures.  Search on their site for your local collection point or set up your own. Include items found in the cleanup as long as they are washed and dried.


Most large supermarkets have a collection point for plastic bags and film.  This varies by location so have a look and see what you can find locally.

Fishing floats

Some are reuseable so why not donate back to a local angler.

Clothes and Shoes

Washed, these can go to a fabric recycle bin or to a shop if it is in good condition.

Local Projects

I also kept a lot of the smaller every day items for outreach and campaigning.  Why not look to your local community to see what artists and campaigners can use.

Send it Back

There are lots of repeat culprits in our waterways.  Lucozade, Macdonalds and Coca Cola are some that come to mind.  Why not wash the rubbish and either send it back, take a photo and tweet them to ask them what they are doing about their packaging that keeps polluting our environment.  Share your posts in the Paddle Cleanup facebook group.

Top tips for repurposing your river rubbish

As it takes 25 years for a head of lettuce to degrade in a landfill site, it is really important to divert as much as possible.  Another challenge to add to the adventure! Strong headwinds and tide races meant that our length of Wales trip was pretty tough towards the end.  We had our first ‘man overboard’ too. At one stage we had to turn around and head backwards 1 km to wait for the tide to turn as the water was running so fast in the opposite direction.  Another great team of women though and we all pulled together and finally made it to Sharpness, 240km paddled over 3 weeks, with a few aches and bruises and very much looking forward to a long soak in the bath.

We picked up a shocking 5637 pieces of plastic! 

86% of this was avoidable single use plastic.  Imagine the difference to the environment if we managed to cut out single use plastic!  Bottles and tops were by far the biggest polluter, accounting for half of the plastic we found.  I should reiterate that we didn’t pick up everything, we couldn’t, and it was heartbreaking to leave what we did but you try fitting a shopping trolley in a kayak without going for a swim!  I know that there was so much more at the bottom that we couldnt see too.  We were given reports of plastic coming up with anchor lines and saw ourselves some of it sink as we tried to fish it out.