Treasure Your River

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Treasure Your River

Ahoy me hearties, 75% of people in the UK wish they could do more to tackle marine litter (Hubbub, 2020). Our buccaneering #TreasureYourRiver campaign used the power of pirate-themed events to recruit clean-up crews and encourage people to keep their rivers in ship-shape.

We collaborated with litter-busting organisations around the UK to bring litter-clearing activities to six major UK rivers. Clean-ups and engagement events took place along the rivers Avon, Forth, Mersey, Severn, Thames, and Trent, as well as their tributaries.

What’s the sitch? Let’s zoom in on the issue.

  1. Most of it comes from land

    Each year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped in the sea (the equivalent of 2.2 million orcas and 11.7 million pirate ships). 80% of the litter in our oceans comes from land through rivers and waterways (United Nations, 2017).

  2. Rivers carry litter to sea

    UK rivers contribute to the problem by ferrying litter towards the seven seas. The River Thames alone has an estimated 300 tonnes of litter making its way out to sea each year (Thames 21).

  3. Microplastics are a macro problem

    In addition, all rivers tested in the UK contain high amounts of microplastics, in some locations this was even higher than in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

  4. It's harmful and costly

    Any litter that doesn’t sail out to sea can get stuck in tidal river systems; meaning it can accumulate, harm wildlife and be costly to clean up.

What our crew got up to

Along each of the rivers, a range of litter busting activities took place to engage local residents and businesses. Typical litter picks turned into pirate fancy dress, scavenger hunts and silent disco events to encourage new people to join clean-ups. We took to the waves with remote-controlled boats that picked up litter floating on the surface. Our Plastic Fishing boats also toured the UK, encouraging volunteers to join the crew and hunt for plastic with their trusty litter picks.

What difference did we make? 

The campaign was independently measured by the Rivers Trust.

  • Over 82 Treasure Your River clean-up events took place.
  • More than 1,217 bags of litter were prevented from entering our rivers or plundered from our waterways.
  • Over 924 people joined the crew at a clean-up event committing more than 3,455 volunteer hours.

Want to join the crew, matey?

  • Take our 'What Pirate Are You' quiz to get some tailored tips to become a top-tier river advocate. Be a rebel – if you see litter on the ground, rebel against the status quo and pick up that treasure.
  • If you’re a business or organisation who wants to join the pARRtnership – get in touch to discuss how we can collaborate.

Keen to cut down on plastic?

Whilst swapping single-use plastic bottles for a re-usable cup seems like a no-brainer, there are some less obvious hidden plastics lurking around our homes. Check out what they are.

Curious to know more about Hubbub?

At Hubbub, we want to see a world where everyone makes choices that are good for the environment. Check out what we do and the difference we're making.