Hackney volunteers join nationwide clean up to tackle plastic pollution

Plastic rubbish embedded and woven into trees on the river Lea at Hackney marshes.

Plastic rubbish embedded and woven into trees on the river Lea at Hackney marshes. - Credit: Marcus Bastel

Volunteers are heading to Hackney Marshes this weekend, as part of a nation-wide clean up of the UK’s beaches and countryside.

UK grassroots environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) are hosting a flagship week from May 15 as part of a year-long plastic pollution clean-up campaign called The Million Mile Beach clean.

Launching during Mental Health Awareness Week, the charity wants to encourage people to get outdoors and reconnect with nature for their physical and mental wellbeing, while also making a positive impact on the world's oceans. 

Graphic Designer Jess Morris, 29, has volunteered with SAS since she was a teenager.

She said: "By being the voice of the ocean, SAS have raised awareness of the interconnected systems that we are all part of and how each and every one of us can play a part in the protection of our planet, no matter who you are or where you live.”

Jess will join 50,000 other volunteers across the country who are taking action against plastic waste in what SAS calls “the most ambitious beach clean ever undertaken”.


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Volunteers have committed to cleaning over 350,000 miles of coastline and countryside in seven days, with each individual encouraged to clean 10 miles at their local beach, river, street or other green space by the end of 2021.

29-year-old Jess Morris has been volunteering with Surfers Against Sewage since she was a teenager. 

29-year-old Jess Morris has been volunteering with Surfers Against Sewage since she was a teenager. - Credit: Surfers Against Sewage

Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, added: “Since announcing the Million Mile Beach Clean in April, we have seen a groundswell of momentum to tackle the plastic pollution crisis."

The news follows residents concerns, earlier this year, about the amount of plastic rubbish embedded along the River Lea.

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Alongside the immediate impact of clearing up plastic pollution and litter, volunteers will also record the litter they find through the charity’s auditing tool, to uncover the brands littering blue and green spaces across the UK.

Information collected will inform the annual SAS Brand Audit, which reveals which brands are polluting British landscapes and calls for changes in the industry.

In 2019, the charity revealed that the top polluters were Nestle, Coca Cola, Walkers, Kraft, Tesco, Mars and Unilever.  

 Learn more and get involved at  www.sas.org.uk/our-work/

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