Flowers in the park

Fun on the canal with Capital Clean-up

Last month Katrina Ramsey from the Environment Team went along to the Lower Regents Coalition Capital Clean-up event, and got in a kayak…

It’s not every day you get to go kayaking after work! I joined the Lower Regents Coalition’s monthly Capital Clean-up event with Moo Canoes. They provide the boats volunteers use to get out on the canal and collect rubbish that usually can’t be reached. I met the group near Mile End and set off with 26 volunteers in kayaks with more litter picking the towpath.

Step 1: Kit up

Before getting on the water, I had to kit up. I wore old clothes, and was given waterproof trousers, a lifejacket, and two pairs of gloves (latex ones underneath and thicker rubber ones on top).A passer-by stopped and asked me how she could get involved - so there’s obviously local support for what’s going on with Capital Clean-up.

Step 2: Getting into the boat

It had been a while since I’d been in a kayak. I had to clamber in from the canal side. We went out in pairs. That meant one person could hold the boat steady while the other got in. Then it was just a case of fitting rubbish bags and litter pickers in the boat and we were off!

The event

There were several boats out litter picking (see photos!). I was paired up with Will from Moo Canoes, and we paddled 15 minutes up the canal to a stretch that needed clearing. Litter tends to accumulate under overhanging vegetation, or where the canal bends.

In just over an hour we managed to fill two bags of rubbish. Things like plastic bottles, cans and crisp packets. I also found half a lemon bobbing along! It’s actually quite satisfying fishing rubbish out of the water and from the banks with your litter pickers... Other volunteers found bigger items including part of a chair (which they carefully balanced on their kayak for the paddle back).Between us we collected 30 bags of rubbish.

I found out that the ducks and coots often use rubbish to make their nests from – so you shouldn’t disturb these little deliberate islands of litter in the canal (even if you really want to tidy up!).