This Cancer Survivor Is Doing Her Part To Help Clean London’s Waterways

This Cancer Survivor Is Doing Her Part To Help Clean London’s Waterways

Lizzie Carr, a cancer survivor, wants to remove more than a million bits of rubbish from London’s waterways before 2020.

It all began in 2013 when Lizzie Carr took up paddleboarding after surviving a bout of thyroid cancer. At first, she hoped the low impact activity would help her build-up some strength, but it did much more than that!

While she was weaving through London’s waterways, she noticed the layers of plastic dotting the water, prompting her to develop Plastic Patrol in 2016. However, instead of just paddling through London, she decided to journey through all of England.

The cancer survivor shared her journey on Instagram, which helped to propel her movement forward. Earlier this year, Plastic Patrol became an official organisation, and volunteers can take part in the planet-friendly activity all over the world.

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Four years ago I started campaigning against plastic pollution by litter picking from my paddleboard. Back then I couldn’t find a centralised, scientifically robust way to monitor and measure the litter I collected, so I built my own. Today marks a pretty significant milestone. The total number pieces that have been photographed, mapped and categorised in the @plastic_patrol app now stands at 160,000 across 61 countries worldwide! This completely blows my mind and it’s all down to the incredible efforts of people around the globe who truly care - so thank you. Through the app we’re able to identify the type, amount, location and brand of litter polluting nature - anywhere from beaches and mountains to waterways and streets - so our partner scientists can understand trends and patterns to trace the issue back to source. It’s a fact that you can’t find a solution without first understanding the problem, so that’s what we’re doing. I shared the early findings and bigger vision with @10downingstreet last week and left feeling more determined to build a mass scale, undeniable evidence base to take back to them, because that’s what gives us the power to make change. The goal is to log one million pieces of litter (plastic, glass, cans - just anything in nature, where it shouldn’t be) and your contribution to achieve this would be phenomenal. Will you help? Photo @andyhargraves #plasticpatrol #sustainability #citizenscience #bigdata #plasticpollution #zerowaste #circulareconomy #climatechange #extinctionrebellion #ecoliving #peoplepower

A post shared by Lizzie Carr (@lizzie_outside) on

The best part? Volunteers can log every single piece of rubbish they pick up via the Plastic Patrol app. So far, according to the app, Plastic Patrollers have picked up 170,000 pieces of trash across the globe! But what happens with all of the rubbish?

Plastic Patrol gives the rubbish collected to TerraCycle, an organisation that recycles trash that the council rejects. Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

Lizzie says, "For me, the one thing I want to communicate is that we need to stop thinking about litter picking in isolation. Every time you pick up rubbish, log it in the app. If the whole world was capturing evidence in a centralised location, we would actually make a difference."

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Lizzie and her volunteers have found some crazy things while meandering through London’s waterways! She has also broken some records. You can find out which records she has smashed and which strange items her and her crew have found in the video above!

Erin Doe
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