Over four days this autumn, Strandliners volunteers cleared more than 280 kilograms of toxic waste from a 2-kilometre stretch of the east bank of Rye’s River Rother, bringing the 2019 total collected from that site to 750 kilograms.
Strandliners executive director Andy Dinsdale said : “Our evidence shows that 45% of that is domestic or consumer items. If our dedicated volunteers hadn’t cleared it, it would have ended up in the sea.” [Total waste collected by Strandliners volunteers from all sites in 2019, including the Rother was 850 kilos]
As part of Surfers Against Sewage’s Summit To Sea event and with active support from the Rye Golf Club, Rother District Council and the Rye Harbour Master, Strandliners led a four-day clean-up and survey of the Rother riverbank, an effort requiring over 100 hours of volunteer labour.
Incorporated in 2018, Strandliners, a local community-driven community interest company, tasks itself with cleaning area beaches and riverbanks. Its sharper focus is now on analysing and logging where the waste its volunteers collect comes from, with a view to stopping it at its source.
Says Dinsdale: “Our fingertip searches of the riverbank revealed that 80% of the rubbish by weight was plastic. No other agency or environmentally-conscious group has ever done a survey of the Rother like this before. As an example of our findings, in just one square-metre surveyed, our volunteers picked up over 400 biobeads.”
Biobeads are minute man-made microplastics used in wastewater treatment plants as media filters. According to industry sources, biobeads are never released into the environment. And yet …
To scale up its war on plastic, Strandliners has now launched a community action programme to train and deploy members of local communities as citizen scientists, serving as stewards of upstream waterways in the River Rother catchment basin.
Image Credits: Andrew Dinsdale .