Monday, 4 June 2007

London's Dirtiest Beach Clean Up!

We weren't the only early risers that Sunday. Rowers were out and about enjoying the cool weather as well.

It's so annoying how lazy some people are. Look closely: A litter box right next to the benches and still some of us choose to litter the ground and benches. Shameful really!

Yesterday, The National Maritime Museum joined forces with Thames21 for a really good cause: Clearing up the Thames shoreline (well not all of it). Volunteers came in to help clear up the shore from plastic bags, shopping trolleys, old metal works, among other things from the North Side of the River Thames, The Greenwich bend in the Isle of Dogs (dubbed London's dirtiest Thames beach).

Whimsy ChiChi always in search of a good cause, set out with the volunteers. We all do different things for different reasons. My reason was to find out what all this was about, have fun, meet new people and just do something good on a Sunday morning (oh, and come back with something for my blog). After some delays with registration, the heath talk and signing up, we were told to rummage through the boxes of Wellies that the Thames21 supplied along with gloves.

Thames21 are a very organized lot, I must admit. The boots were arranged by size in boxes. From sizes 3 to 12 and gloves from small to large, there was something to suit everyone. Shovels and forks and garbage bags handed out we were ready to go. And off we went.

Did I mention that this was my first time doing something of the sort? Having traded my Sunday Guccis for wellies, and my Chanel handbag for a rucksack on my back (something I rarely do) I trudged along with the others. When I first stepped on the shore, it felt like being a kid again playing in mud and sloshing in the dirt. A fleeting childhood memory came to my mind and I found that I was actually excited to start.

Fantastic: If you look closely you can make out the outlines of a sunken boat.

Once on the shore, we start digging up for plastic bags, a really physically hard task. I dug, pulled and tugged at several. Fell into the muck twice and literally got stuck in the mud twice (where I luckily had the Thames21 guys on hand to help). Once you unearthed one of the damn things, another seemed to pop up. It dawned on me how much work really needed to be done and how much people litter. We throw away the oddest things.

Thanks to the work of Thames21 (since 1994), that the River Thames has actually become cleaner and safer for wildlife.

According to their website (, this charity has managed to remove hundreds of tonnes of litter from London's rivers and canals. Matthew Loveday, River Programmes Coordinator has said about the foreshore we cleaned up yesterday, 'This is one of London's dirtiest Thames beaches and last year, Thames21 kicked off a campaign to clean up Thames grot spots with a five day clean up. We removed 10 tonnes of litter, including around 25,000 plastic bags. We are now running regular clean ups on this site and levels of litter are gradually decreasing, although more work needs to be done. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers like the Museum, we are making real progress in the bid to restore this Thames beach to health".

Treasures of the day

We were there for two and a half hours. By then I was sweating, tired, covered in grit and grime and totally happy and proud of myself. I had learnt a lot and watched what people can do when they come together for a cause. The atmosphere was friendly, organized, upbeat and everyone was there to make a day of it. Something more of us should do. Unfortunately, I can't report unearthing any treasures on the day (although one group did report two handguns that they'd found) but I did end up with part of an old clay pipe and a piece of China. Not bad for a beginner I think.

Luckily we were given brushes to clean our wellies in the Thames followed by washing buckets with detergent to wash away the grime from our hands.

There are many ways you can help Thames21 which you can find on their website or by E-mail: or Tel: 020 7248 7171


Kate said...

Hi, sounds like you had some fun on the Thames doing your clean up. We thought you might be pleased to know that we have the same problems up here in the Northwest - but thankfully the same willing and incredibly enthusiastic volunteers to help out!

our blog shows some of the sites we're cleaning up

Whimsy ChiChi said...

Hi Kate,
Just took a look at the photos you've mentioned. It really is so sad to see how litter gets strewn around. It's a shame and a waste. More people should be made aware of the hazards of doing so and if each one gives cleaning their area a go, I guarantee you not many will look at littering the same way ever again.