Plastics In Rivers

Plastic Rivers

Plastic litter is the most visual indication of the pollution of our rivers. Eight million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year, much of coming from river systems. Awareness is growing on how this is impacting our rivers, oceans and wildlife, but a lot of plastic still ends up in watercourses.

Come Join Us – EPIC Litter Pick – 26th November 2019

Join us in the front line to fight the plastic problem in our rivers. Litter picks are still vital to fighting this issue, without picking up the litter that is already out there, we risk it grinding down into small fragments that we can’t yet get rid of.  Last year, local Rivers Trusts held more than 550 litter picks and we were lucky enough to have had the support of over 1200 volunteers. So put on your wellies and join us at the EPIC project clean up the new Sompting Brooks. 

For more information on the EPIC Litter Pick and Our Plastics campaign contact Alistair Whitby at

Plastic Free Christmas

Research shows that our waste can double during the Christmas period, and most of it is plastic from gift wrapping and packaging. We can make the most of the festive season without the mountains of avoidable waste often generated at this time of year. Glittery or shiny wrapping paper might look appealing, but every year it creates a mountain of waste as it  is non-recyclable. The UK uses 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year – enough to stretch nine times around the world – alongside 40 million rolls of plastic sellotape!

So this Christmas, ditch the plastic wrapping paper and opt for recyclable brown paper, magazine paper or stylish reusable fabric wraps. Post a picture of yourself using a recyclable option on our social media channels (@Epic_Sompting or @Epicsompting1) for a chance to win a beautiful WragWrap set donated to us by

Action for a Plastic Free Christmas

  • Ditch plastic wrapping paper. Opt for recyclable brown paper, magazine paper or stylish reusable fabric wraps.
  • Give eco Christmas crackers a go. There are now many recyclable or even reusable crackers that don’t come loaded with landfill plastic 
  • Get a green tree. If you’ve got a fake tree, make it last as long as possible. If not, get a tree with an FSC/Soil Association logo, a potted tree that can be used year after year or even rent one!
  • Gift an experience. Why not take friends or family ice skating, to see a Christmas play or to see their favourite band. The memories will last a lot longer than most presents.
  • Ethical Christmas gifts. Wooden toys are making a comeback. From puzzles, balance bikes and push-along animals to musical instruments and building blocks, there are lots of great choices for younger children that are also good for the planet.

Minimising Microplastics

When plastics break down due to exposure to water, sun or other elements they can break into tiny pieces – most of them too small to be seen with the naked eye. These small plastic fragments have been found virtually everywhere, from the deepest ocean trenches to the Arctic and in increasingly in our waterways, air, soil and the food we eat. Once plastic enters an organism it can bioaccumulate as it travels up the food chain to a top predator, e.g a whale or a human. Over half of river insects have been found to contain plastic.

Actions to Minimise MIcroplastics

  • Prevent the creation of microplastics by trying to minimise single use plastics.
  • Pick up plastic litter whenever you see it, especially in ponds, streams, rivers, beaches, when possible. There are plenty of organised clean-up activities.
  • Consider changing the way you wash your clothing to reduce the number of microfibres that are released. There are also bags and other devices you can use in your washing machine to collect the fibres. 
  • Consider purchasing items made of natural fibres, when possible (cotton, wool etc.)
  • Do not wash off lint from your dryer down the drain. Dispose of it in the bin.

Say No to Single Use

We know that this is easier said than done but reduce and reuse as much as you possibly can. As consumers, we all have a part to play in reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our rivers. To have the greatest impact, we should be using less plastic by choosing alternatives where possible, or by reusing the plastic items we already have. Single-use plastic is nearly always unnecessary and there are now a multitude of alternatives.

Actions to Reduce Single Use Plastics

  • Use a refillable drinks bottle (plastic bottles make up 14% of freshwater litter)
  • Carry a re-usable produce bag for shopping
  • Don’t discard cigarettes on the ground (butts make up 9% of freshwater litter)
  • Buy dry goods (cereal, pasta, rice) in bulk, buy loose fruit and veg – avoid excess packaging.
  • Carry a reusable coffee mug (2.5 billion takeaway cups are used in the UK each year)
  • Never flush wet wipes (they cause 94% of sewage blockages & make up 3% of river litter)
  • Use reusable food containers (boxes, wraps or bags) for getting takeaways (5.2 billion plastic food containers are used in the UK each year).

Stay in Touch

We really hope there is something for everyone and we want you to get involved, sign up to our mailing list to be kept informed of what is happening, where and when.