Leg three was tough!
Strong headwinds and tide races meant that we had some pretty tough days at 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.
All in all 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.
Where did it all go?
The bottle tops and other hard plastic (HDPE) we put aside and sent down to Fathoms Free down in Cornwall. This will hopefully be made into more up cycled kayaks like the two we used on the trip. See my Circular Kayak blog for more information. The bottles we recycled where possible.
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.
I also kept a lot of the smaller every day items for outreach and campaigning. Watch this space to see what I do with it, my initial port of call was the Women’s Institute in Bristol.
I was honoured to be invited to talk in Bristol on my return to the Women’s Institute. I took some of the plastic we found with me and gave them tonnes of practical tips on what they can do to help reduce their own plastic footprint and to get their favourite brands to reduce their impact too.
We recycled what we could and sadly the food packaging, polystyrene and heavily soiled plastics could only end up in the bin. In future I will be looking for more solutions so please do get in touch if you can think of any!