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Clean a canal by paddleboard at Plastic Oceans Festival

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With plastic pollution a growing problem around the world, threatening the health of rivers, lakes, oceans, marine life, and ultimately human health, Brunel University London researchers are taking both a leading role in raising awareness, and a hands-on approach to cleaning up London’s waterways.

Running from April to September 2017, the Plastic Oceans Festival is a series of events which aim to improve public understanding of the damaging effects plastic pollution is having in and around the capital’s water. The Festival is organised by a group of organisations, including Brunel, Active 360, Watertrek, and the Plastic Oceans Foundation (UK).

The latest event in the Plastic Oceans Festival 2017 series takes place on Tuesday 18 July at Merchant Square, Paddington.

Throughout the day and evening, open air film screenings will showcase the best documentaries on the theme - 'North of the Sun / Nordfor Sola' (12.15pm), 'A Plastic Whale' from Sky News at 4pm, and 'A Plastic Ocean' at 6pm, followed by Q&A with some of the team behind it.

Everyone is invited to take part in ‘Paddle & Pick’ events on the canal at Merchant Square at 12pm, 4pm and 8pm – a fun and challenging session using stand-up paddleboards to float out and clean the litter as you paddle up to Little Venice. With expert coaches available, paddlers of all levels can join – even if you have never tried it before.

Film screenings are free and open to all – just turn up – but Paddle & Pick sessions must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

Co-organised by Brunel’s Dr Christopher Green, July’s Paddle & Pick day saw almost 800 pieces of litter removed from the canal, including more than 250 food wrappers, 60 carrier bags, dozens of drinks bottles, cups and wrappers, a leather wallet… and two ‘voodoo dolls’.

Dr Green says: “Stand up paddleboarding is a great way to get out on the water and to see your surroundings from a completely different perspective, even if you are a beginner. Paddling along the canals opens up a new side to London. However, impacts of litter are also clear and I hope that when people see it for themselves and hear the stories told in our series of films and reports that they will think more about the amount of waste they produce and how they dispose of it.”

Brunel University London is home to a unique interdisciplinary collaboration of social scientists and environmental scientists working on a range of research projects which investigate both the impact of plastic entering our waterways, and how to stop it.

Professor Susan Jobling, Director of the Institute of Environment, Health and Societies at Brunel, Professor Lesley Henderson, and Dr Christopher Green were key scientific advisors on the 2016 adventure documentary 'A Plastic Ocean'.  

Read more about the Plastic Oceans Foundation and Brunel University London’s Institute for Environment, Health and Societies

Find out more about the Plastic Oceans Festival events at


Reported by:

Sarah Cox, Media Relations