Paddleboarder Sets Out on Epic Journey to Fight Plastic Pollution
Lizzie Carr, an adventurer and environmentalist based in the UK, has set off on a three-week, 400 mile journey with only her stand up paddleboard and 30kg of supplies to bring awareness to plastic pollution.
According to The Guardian, she set off from the most southern point of the UK’s connected waterways, the river Wey in Surrey on Wednesday. She will then travel north through Oxford, Coventry, the Stoke on Trent canal, the Douglas and Ribble rivers in Lancashire and finish just south of Kendal, Cumbria. Along the way, she will travel through 193 locks and 8km of tunnels and aqueducts standing over 25ft above the ground.
With the help of Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency for Great Britain, Carr will also map out the scale of plastic pollution in England’s iconic canals and waterways.
If she successfully completes the epic trip, she'll be the first person to paddleboard the length of England via its connected waterways.
Carr started her journey on Wednesday from the southernmost point of her journey, the river Wey in Surrey. She will travel 600 miles north before stopping in Kendal, Cumbria. Photo credit: Ordnance Survey
“I started paddleboarding a while ago in the Isles of Scilly, Portugal and Barbados,” Carr told the Guardian while on her board. “I came back to London and found you could do it in canals and cities, but the more I was doing it the more I saw plastic pollution and debris in the water. It was really sad and when you’re trying to board and you get plastic bags stuck on your fins it really compromises the whole experience.
“There are so many layers to the problem of plastic pollution but for me this is about raising awareness and getting people to think about when they buy something that is plastic, what use they will get out of it.
"That meant quitting my stressful corporate job to spend more time with the people I loved rather than confined within the office walls. But, above all, it meant getting outside and back in nature—not just for the obvious health benefits—but because it was the place I felt happiest. I wanted to live a more balanced life, regaining strength by pushing my mental and physical limits and, rather than letting the experience claim me, use it to create a life that I dreamt of."
Carr, who only tried SUP for the first time two years ago, has now paddled on rivers and oceans around the world. She was also selected as a champion for Ordnance Survey’s "Get Outside" campaign to encourage people to explore the UK.
“Paddle boarding the length of the country is a great way to show its natural beauty from an altogether different perspective—the water,” Carr told Science Focus. “Our canals are iconic pieces of history that provide a presence of calm and tranquillity in urban settings.
"They are easily accessible all over the country they are currently under threat from plastic pollution and debris that, if we don’t address soon, will compromise the beauty and quality of our experiences along the canals.”
Plastic litter has infiltrated many of the UK's bodies of water. Research from the University of London found that nine out of 10 flounder and a fifth of smelt swimming in the Thames river had plastic in their guts. The researchers also found giant knots of plastic fibers in the stomachs of Chinese mitten crabs at Chelsea Bridge.
The Canal and River Trust, which manages the navigable waterways of England and Wales, spends nearly £1 million a year on clean up efforts.
“Plastic in our water is a serious issue currently under government review,” Nick Giles, managing director for Ordnance Survey Leisure, told Science Focus. “It’s also an issue Ordnance Survey’s recent Geovation Challenge highlighted. Lizzie is an OS Champion for a good reason, and what she is doing demonstrates how we have a beautiful country to be enjoyed, but it also stresses how much it and the creatures that live in it need protecting.”
Carr, who has been in remission from cancer for the past two years, is "deeply in love" with her life.
"It’s been scary, difficult, exhausting but quitting my job and shaking up my life has been the best decision I ever made," she wrote on her bio page. "I’m extremely grateful for my experience and the new sense of perspective it’s given me."
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
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