On Wednesday, 13th March 2019, Fantastic Services teamed up with environmental non-profit organisation (NPO), Thames21 in what ended up being a successful clean-up campaign of the Thames River in London.
A small group of around seven Fantastic Services employees together with three Thames21 volunteers met up in the morning and worked through until the afternoon, helping to clean a shore section of one of the world’s most famous rivers.
Just like Fantastic Services likes a good clean up, so does Thames21. That’s why in return for the possibility to participate in this charity event, Fantastic Services will provide two waste-removal collection services to Thames21 in London, expanding on the waste clean-up initiative further with our service.
Furthering our aid to Thames21 and strongly believing in the cause they promote, Fantastic Services also decided to donate the proceeds of a raffle held at the First Annual Fantastic Services Franchise Conference in February this year to Thames21.
So, who are Thames21?
A non-profit organisation, Thames21 connects people with waterways by putting healthy rivers back at the heart of everyday life.
They improve and restore rivers, educate and empower the community and campaign for positive change for the good of people and the environment.
Rivers are improved through monitoring water quality, restoring habitats and championing catchment partnerships.
The NPO facilitates educational campaigns and educates through outdoor learning sessions, and helps schools become more sustainable.
They also empower people through river stewardship, collecting data on plastic pollution, events, training and campaigns.
How Did the Event Go?
Thames21 and Fantastic Services started in front of the Royal Festival Hall, working along to Hungerford to the west and over to Southwark Bridge to the east.The team of 10 was kitted-out with wellies, gloves and litter tongs and received a health and safety briefing before starting out.
Despite strong winds, cold weather, and Storm Gavin rampaging along the shore, the team could not be stopped! Although they had to wait for the tide to go out so that the foreshore was exposed, the team worked tirelessly from 10:30 am until 13:00 pm.
As a special and unexpected treat, there was a rare sighting of a Cormorant Bird just as the group started the clean-up. This, according to sources, is an important indication that there are many fish in the Thames, which in turn, means that the river is becoming cleaner.
Once the clean-up started, the team was exposed to a variety of sightings. They came across lots of large bones, which is an indication that carcasses of slaughtered sheep back in the olden days were thrown in the river. Unexpectedly, they also found a wallet complete with credit cards, some mobile phones as well as two bikes.
One of the volunteers found a stone that was painted to look like a Cadbury’s Cream Egg on the back of which it read: ‘Post a pic on FB, Herefordshire rocks, re-hide me’. Our team has done so, and now – it’s your turn to find the egg!
And last but not least, the team came across many plastic straws, bottle tops, as well as wet wipes, the latter of which are equally as harmful to the environment, as they also contain lots of plastic and take hundreds of years to decompose.
But more on the harmful effects of wet wipes in our next section, where we speak with Lawrence Beale Collins, the Corporate Partnerships Officer at Thames21.
Q&A With Thames21
Q: What is Thames21’s core area of work?
A: Our work at Thames21 is constantly evolving to respond to the needs of our rivers and the wildlife that depend on them. While the removal of plastics, and single-use items such as wet wipes and plastic bottles, remains our core campaign, we also work hard on Natural Flood Management projects and river restoration all over the Thames area.
Q: Why are wet wipes so dangerous to the environment?
A: Wet wipes introduce micro-fibres and chemicals into the river system and this is ingested by all animals living within, and by, our waterways. Wet wipes also smother the foreshore, making it harder for wading birds to feed at low tide and fish to feed at high tide.
Q: Could you tell us a bit more about the success of your wet wipe campaign last year?
A: We have achieved mainstream media coverage, on a regular basis, we were also mentioned in Parliament and have appeared twice on Countryfile. Some 5,000 wet wipes were recovered from the area the size of a tennis court in 2018. But success cannot be gauged until we are rid of these things and people stop flushing them down their toilets.
Q: Are you seeing more of other items apart from wet wipes in recent months and years?
A: We always see a large number of single-use plastic bottles all along the Thames. During last summer’s football World Cup, we saw a huge spike in plastic drinking cups along the Thames foreshore, most likely from the pubs along the river and its tributaries.
Q: Have you seen a big rise in volunteers?
A: We have seen a steady climb in volunteer numbers throughout the Thames area, which we welcome. We would also like more people to train with us, so that they can lead their own groups and also we are always looking to train more citizen scientists. All opportunities are available on our website www.thames21.org.uk.
Q: Is there anything else which you feel is important to mention regarding this initiative with Fantastic Services?
A: We are delighted to be working with Fantastic Services and admire the amount of commitment they are putting into this.
Check out the pictures from the event in the gallery below!
Posted in In the Spotlight
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