Lizzie Carr, the environmentalist from Purley who in 2016 paddled the length of England’s waterways to check how much waste plastic was polluting the country’s rivers and canals, today sets off on another piece of scientific adventure.
Carr is using her paddle board to cover the whole length of the Hudson River in North America to raise awareness of plastic pollution. On her 170-mile journey, she will be collecting water samples so microplastic levels in the river can be analysed.
The United States, Carr says, is “one of the world’s biggest consumers of single use plastic”.
Carr’s odyssey should take eight days.
The journey ought to be well within Carr’s capabilities. She covered 400 miles in 2016 when she paddled from the English Channel in Hampshire, via rivers and canals, to Cumbria, picking up discarded plastic bottles, traffic cones and 1,200 other nasties along the way.
And last year, Carr became the first woman to paddle board solo across the English Channel.
“Nearly 80 per cent of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans comes from inland sources, so focusing on cleaning up canals and rivers is where a real difference can be made to help to resolve the global problem of plastics choking our seas,” Carr said.
Carr’s 22-day paddle in 2016 saw her carrying 66lb of equipment, including her tent and supplies, on her board, as she navigated 193 locks and crossed four miles of tunnels and aqueducts, on a route that took her up to the Thames, on to the Oxford Canal, reaching Oxford after the first week, before heading on to Coventry and Stoke on Trent by canal. Heading north, she reached Manchester via the Bridgewater Canal before finishing in Kendal.
Her objective on her American adventure is similar.
“This is a man-made problem,” Carr said of the plague of plastics. “80per cent of marine debris starts from inland sources, including rivers like the Hudson, before it eventually flows out to the ocean.
“I want my journey along the Hudson to motivate people to take action, so together, we can make a real difference to resolve the global problem of plastics choking out seas.”
Carr will be taking water samples along the way, to be analysed by the Hudson River Park Trust, and her board is fitted with a “smart” fin that will measure the water temperature – a move she said would help interpret the impact of global warming.
The data will be collected by a chip in the fin and transmitted to an oceanographic research institute.
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