FORTY-TWO eco-warriors from Bridgwater came together last Saturday (September 28, 2019) and cleared 208 plastic bottles, 395 drinks cans, 65 glass bottles and six drinks cartons from the town’s canal and towpath.
Community group, Rage Against Rubbish, organised the event to support the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) Green Clean initiative to help provide evidence to convince the Government to adopt a bottle deposit return system.
Sarah Johnstone, who lives in Bridgwater and is part of the Rage Against Rubbish team, explained: “We were delighted to be able to link up with CPRE for its campaign as we are huge supporters for the UK to have a bottle deposit return system.
“We had a very busy morning collecting litter from the YMCA to Bridgwater Docks following the canal. Groups of volunteers tackled the towpath and we also had people in kayaks and canoes collecting litter on the waterway.
“In total 30 bags of rubbish were collected altogether. Ten bags were filled with general rubbish and 20 were full of drink containers that could be recycled.
“At our previous litter picks plastic bottles, cans and glass bottles make up the majority of the litter we collect, and it was great to prove this once again. A bottle deposit return system would certainly boost recycling rates and help eradicate litter of this kind in our countryside. The small financial incentive from the scheme will mean we see less of this kind of rubbish in our green spaces.”
CPRE, the countryside charity, has been working in partnership with more than 20 community groups and volunteers across the country during September to help clean up green spaces and the countryside as part of its nationwide Green Clean.
Becky Collier, Branch Manager at CPRE Somerset, said: “We are delighted we could work in partnership with Rage Against Rubbish and local volunteers for the Bridgwater Green Clean.
“Litter left on the canal towpath, local streets, and canal itself isn’t just an eyesore, it can be extremely harmful to wildlife and nature. It is amazing and heart-warming to see how many local people care about their environment and are happy to give up their free time to help make a difference.
“On Saturday alone in just a couple of hours, we collected a staggering number of harmful drinks cans, bottles and cartons. Just think what a difference it would make if these were all worth something, even just a few pennies? CPRE will use the data from all the Green Cleans to keep up pressure on the Government to bring in a comprehensive deposit return system as soon as possible.”
Rage Against Rubbish was formed by Sarah, Dan Perry, his 10-year-old son Riley, Jason Winter and Trev Vass, all kayakers, who regularly paddle along the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. They were fed-up with seeing vast amounts of rubbish and discarded items in the waterway.
Sarah added: “We once again would like to thank the Inland Waterway Association (IWA) Somerset Volunteers for aiding us with the litter pick and the Canal & River Trust for its ongoing support. It was fantastic to have all these associations as well as the CPRE coming together for the same cause, to keep our canal clean and tidy for everyone to enjoy.
“Thanks also to the YMCA for lending us its kayaks and canoes free of charge and to the Purplespoon Café for its discount to our volunteers.”
Rage Against Rubbish’s next litter pick will take place on Saturday, October 26 from the YMCA George Williams Centre on Friarn Avenue in Bridgwater. It will start from 9.50am and run until 12.30pm.
The Rage Against Rubbish Crew and volunteers will paddle and walk towards the end of Taunton Road following the canal collecting rubbish from both the waterway and the towpath. The community group has bin bags, litter pickers and bag hoops for volunteers to use free of charge. Kayaks and canoes can also be booked via the Rage Against Rubbish website.
Sarah added: “We’re always looking for more volunteers and to entice people further The Purplespoon Café at the YMCA will give each volunteer who attends our litter picking event on October 26 10% off hot food & hot drinks.”
To find out more about the deposit return system, please visit https://bit.ly/2lzkhku.