Rowers and boat race fans can help keep the river clean

Published: Monday, April 1, 2019

Ahead of this weekend’s annual University Boat Race, the rowing community are being reminded of the importance of preventing plastics and other waste materials from polluting the river.

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The Rowers' Charter for keeping the river free of waste

With thousands of spectators expected to line the banks of the Thames for Sunday’s annual showdown between crews from Oxford and Cambridge, the council is reminding people of the importance of keeping litter, and especially plastic waste, out of the Thames.

The council’s plea for people to dispose of their rubbish properly – or bag it up and bring it home with them - follows on from the recent “For Fish’s Sake” campaign which highlighted the damaging impact of waste entering the Thames.

The campaign saw rowing clubs, which are a major focal point of activity on the river, especially around Putney Embankment, being urged to play their part in protecting London’s marine environment. 

As part of the campaign, local rowing clubs helped develop a Rowers’ Charter, including a promise not to drop plastic rubbish which can easily blow into the Thames and harm marine life.

The council’s environment spokesman Cllr Steffi Sutters said she was concerned that after last weekend’s Head of the River Race, the Putney Embankment and foreshore were both littered with plastic pollution.

She said: “Last year we teamed up with Positively Putney, Hubbub and the Port of London Authority on an awareness campaign to help stem the flow of litter into the river, including working with rowing clubs.

“We expect some extra rubbish on the Putney Embankment on big boat race days. There are bins all along this stretch of river and our street cleaners carry out extra patrols to empty the bins and sweep up the trash.

“But I was concerned this weekend that so much single-use plastic ended up dumped on the pavement. I’d like to remind the rowing community about the Rowers’ Charter and ask people watching these races that if the nearest bin is full, find another or take your rubbish home.”

Every year 300 tonnes of rubbish are cleared from the Thames and eighty per cent of plastics found in the ocean were originally dumped on land. Here’s what local people can do to help: 

• Use the bin – not the gutter, not the river, not the pavement
• If you see some litter and you’re near a bin – please pick it up
• If the bin is full, find another one or take your litter home.