Fight Thames Plastic Scourge by Joining Free Citizen Science Training by Thames21

Londoners invited to protect their patch of river through new citizen science hubs


September 2016, London

A new opportunity for Londoners to help the fight-back against plastic and other forms of Thames pollution starts this month. Free citizen science training taking place between September and December means that ordinary Londoners can take action against pollution like never before. The training will focus on litter and water quality issues, and the plan is to create four new citizen science ‘hubs’ at Hammersmith, Battersea, City of London and Greenwich/Isle of Dogs.

The Thames River Watch project, run by Thames21, gives free training to Londoners who want to find out more about the health of the tidal Thames and help protect it. The session will provide non-experts with the knowledge and tools to become a Thames River Watch surveyor, helping build a unique data set about the issues affecting the river, which include poor water quality as well as plastic litter.

Latest Thames River Watch research found that that many of the plastics and polystyrene materials in the Thames appear to be breaking down into small pieces which are more easily ingested by animals, with 35,000 small plastic particles found, adding to the global microplastics crisis. The main culprit was found to be food-related items, comprising 74% of the identifiable items. Research also found a significant presence of bacteria, pointing to the problem of sewage pollution into the Thames.

AJ McConville, Thames River Watch Programme Coordinator, said: ‘Marine plastic has become a huge global issue, with rivers thought to be a major contributor. This training enables Londoners to be a real part of solution by removing the plastic before it gets to the oceans and creating the data to help us stop it at source. It’s a great way to reconnect with your patch of the river, and get involved in collecting unique data about the issues affecting it. Individuals, resident associations, community groups, local businesses can all get involved.’

Thames River Watch volunteers spend a couple of hours each month on the foreshore helping Thames21 build a better picture of the health of the tidal Thames. The free training includes learning about the history of the Thames, the tidal foreshore environment, how to undertake a litter survey and how to report your findings.

The Thames River Watch project is funded by Tideway.

Londoners also get an extra chance this month to join the plastic fightback through the Big Count. This is taking place at the Isle of Dogs, one of the worst Thames litter hotspots, on the 18 September (9-11.30am).The monitoring takes place at similar stages of the tide to provide data that is comparable year-on-year. The results from the Big Count are shared with the public biannually.

Training details:

Booking essential:

More on Thames21’s Thames River Watch latest findings here:

About Thames River Watch:

Social media: #CleanerThames @Thames21 #BigCount


Notes for editors

About Thames21

Thames21 is an environmental charity putting healthy rivers back at the heart of community life. Through environmental improvements, education, research and advocacy efforts, Thames21 is inspiring and influencing effective and lasting change by working hand-in-hand with communities to deliver tangible and measurable improvements for urban rivers. | Registered Charity No. 1103997


Tideway is the organisation delivering the Thames Tideway Tunnel. The tunnel will tackle the problem of overflows from the capital’s sewers so it no longer enters the Thames.


Media Contact

Kirsten Downer

Communications Officer at Thames21

07711 701 696/020 7248 7171