Lizzie Carr (aka Lizzie Outside), has recently become the first person to Stand Up Paddleboard the length of England’s connected waterways. In doing so she also wanted to highlight the problem with plastic impacting our inland waterways, as well as what we find at the coast.
We had a brief chat with Lizzie to find out what drives her and how everyone can help get involved solving the plastic crisis.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m an adventurer and environmentalist, and I take on challenges with the aim of raising awareness of environmental issues to help accelerate social change. Earlier this year I paddle boarded the length of England – 400 miles of inland waterways – to plot, map and scale every piece of plastic I encountered along my route.
As 80% of marine litter comes from inland sources – canals and rivers being a big contributor – I wanted to highlight the problem of plastic pollution at a very local level. If we can address the issue from our doorsteps we are improving the desirability of our inland waterways, protecting habitats for wildlife and helping to combat a global crisis.
2) What inspires you?
I really admire people who go out and make up their own rules for life to turn their dreams and ambitions into reality. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and risk – but it’s all worth it if you can create a life that you’re in love with. We all crave these experiences but only a few have the courage to take the leap of faith to achieve them, to live with real meaning and purpose.
3.) What was the most shocking finding from your #PlasticPatrol challenge?
After 22 days of paddle boarding along the waterways I was more saddened by what I saw than shocked.
There are a lot of the obvious cliché items – shopping trolleys, plastic bottles, shoes, plastic bags as well other rubbish but it’s the sheer volume of it that’s so disheartening.
We’re facing the same problem on inland waterways as we are coastal – otherwise beautiful places littered with plastic and debris. I think it’s easy for people to become desensitised to it, and that in itself is worrying.
4.) Why do you support the #MessageInABottle campaign calling for a Deposit Return System?
I think any initiative that calls for people to make changes to their plastic consumption or disposal habits can only be a good thing. Good on you!
5.) What 3 things can people do to prevent the current Litter Crisis?
The current issue we’re facing is complex and needs addressing at a number of levels to in order to create real, lasting and tangible change.
Individuals should try to be more environmentally conscious and think about their plastic footprint by making small, but significant changes to their lifestyles. Equally, brands needs to be more accountable and give consumers alternatives to plastic at the point of purchase, and finally I think there needs to be more urgency for change at Government level. We have already seen the start of this with the planned banning of micro beads which is great, but I see this as a starting point for wider changes on the issue.
While not all of us can complete a super challenge like Lizzie’s, we can all do our bit for the environment. Why not take part in a local beach clean during our Autumn Beach Clean Series, and make sure you sign the Message In a Bottle Petition calling on a mandatory deposit-return scheme to keep plastic containers in the recycling economy rather than littering our environment.