The concept for Paddle for Plastic came from a need to resolve three reoccurring obstacles we encountered whilst conducting our ocean clean-up activities. These were: how to access the inaccessible coves, estuaries and other areas not frequented by the regular beach cleaners; how to dispose of the plastic we generated through our clean-up operations; and how to fund the running costs of them. To resolve this we came up with an ambitious plan to combine elements of all three problems and turn them into the solution.
The eureka moment came after Rob Thompson, founder of Fathoms Free, participated in an ocean clean-up of the Fowey estuary using kayaks: “the obligatory triumphant photo was taken at the end with us all stood around our great haul of full black bin bags. The knowledge that these bags would then end up in landfill played upon my mind until it occurred to me: why don’t we make the kayaks ourselves out the plastics we gather and then use these kayaks to engage communities to gather more plastic using the kayaks?”
The initial stages of this circular economy model were to build the infrastructure of ocean plastic collection, recycling, storage facilities, research and product development. We have teamed up with BeachCare, Keep Britain Tidy and Exeter City Council in order to achieve this. Together, we have recycled in the region if 7 tonnes of beach waste over the past year with an ever-increasing capacity. The plastic collected by volunteers gets sorted, and what can be recycled becomes the raw material for products. Following numerous trials, we have successfully manufactured a prototype marine plastic bodyboard, and we are now in the final stages of producing the prototype sit-on-top kayak.
The Kayak development model is based on the principle of diverting profits back into supporting our conservation activities and providing an ocean-friendly product for environmentally conscious customers. We are in discussions with various partners such as the National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust who have expressed interest in using our recycled marine plastic kayaks for their activities as part of the campaign.
This project was highly commended in the category of Tomorrows Contribution to Sustainability at the Cornwall Sustainability Awards ceremony in December 2017. Our plan has been closely scrutinised by a judging panel of leading experts in their fields at Cornwall and Isle of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
Now we need your help to rid our seas of marine plastic. Please help us by joining one of our events or, alternatively, do your own paddle for plastic. You can paddle on kayaks, stand up paddle board, surfboards, boats or anything you can think to those otherwise inaccessible places to clear marine debris. We would love to hear about your paddle for plastic adventures! Please share your stories or photos with us in the hope that your mission may inspire others to take action.
Share your experiences with us here and use the following tags:
Or tag us: #PaddleForPlastic #P4P @FathomsFreePaddleforPlastic