Cleaning up Wareham rivers to prevent pollution in our sea

Thirty volunteers turned out for a litter pick along the River Frome and Piddle to help stop plastic and other rubbish from heading into Poole Harbour and out to sea.

Once in the harbour, it can then be swept out by the tides and end up on our shoreline including Swanage Beach.

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A team from Wareham Wombles, Clean Up Dorset Squad and Poole Harbour Canoe Club removed litter from along the rivers and areas of land close to the waterways, as part of the Planet Purbeck Festival and World Rivers Day on Sunday 26th September 2021.

litter pickers and the rubbish
Paul Haigh

The litter pickers and the rubbish they collected

Identify litter hotspots

The event was also to identify litter hotspots as part of a Preventing Plastic Pollution project led by a Dorset-based team from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

By identifying places where litter gets into our waterways, it’s hoped the project will be able to target hotspots and change the behaviour of local communities and businesses.

End up on a beach

For instance, quite unintentionally, a plastic bottle placed in an overflowing bin on Wareham Quay can be easily blown by the wind into the river and then end up through tidal movements in the ocean or on a beach.

The land-based volunteers collected a total of 7 kg of litter over two hours in the morning, covering routes around Wareham that were either close to the waterways or known litter hot spots.

litter pickers in canoes
Paul Haigh

Litter picking on the Frome in Wareham

Cigarette butts, plastic packets, plastic wrappers and caps from drinks bottles

The most common pieces of litter collected were cigarette butts, plastic packets, plastic wrappers and caps from drinks bottles.

On the water, members of the Poole Harbour Canoe Club collected 12 kg of litter between the Frome Estuary and Wareham Quay, while a team of volunteers from the Clean Up Dorset Squad, One Global Ocean, and QMUL paddled upstream of Wareham Quay and recovered 53 Kg of litter.

This figure was skewed by a few large items collected by the paddlers including a discarded 12 volt battery and lumps of wood.

litter pickers and the rubbish
Stuart Beckingham

At Wareham Quay there was information about preventing plastic pollution

“Understand the extent of plastic pollution”

Research scientist Amanda Arnold said:

“A key aspect of the Preventing Plastic Pollution project is to use data to understand the extent of plastic pollution in the environment, so we are keen to encourage volunteers to itemise and weigh the litter collected.

“Removing litter and plastic waste from the local environment is important, but the data captured will also make a valuable contribution in developing a transferable tool to predict litter hotspots, so activities in other areas to reduce plastic pollution can be targeted more effectively.”

#TalkingRubbish online seminar

Litter Free Dorset is inviting everyone to an online seminar called #Talking Rubbish which is all about litter, the environmental impact and where our waste in Dorset goes.

It’s at 10 am to 12 noon on Wednesday 13th October 2021. The speaker line up is:

  • Livvy Drake, City To Sea – The psychology behind littering and littering communication
  • Sam Longworth, Hubbub – Using drone technology and machine learning to tackle litter
  • Martin Gregory, Dorset Council Waste Services – Household waste and where it all goes
  • Katrina Ryan, Mindfully Wired Communications – Social media 101: building campaigns for conservation

To attend the Zoom event, register in advance

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