The Great River Rescue

Make history by registering an event for England’s first national clean-up campaign of rivers, taking place in October 2017.

Fed up with seeing litter – particularly plastic – in your local river? Want to stop it harming wildlife or washing out to sea?

The Great River Rescue campaign gives you the chance to do something about the blight of rubbish in our rivers – by organising and registering your own clean-up, or joining some of the clean-ups put on across England that will be listed here.

Take action today!

About the campaign

Thames21, The Canal and River Trust, the Angling Trust, the Marine Conservation Society, the Rivers Trust and Keep Britain Tidy are all either organising clean-ups or pointing people towards them during the campaign in October.

With our guide, you and your community can put up your own clean-up – or you can look for ones near you.

A Clean up of the Thames – where will yours be? Photo by Justine Trinkett

We are calling on individuals, youth groups, councils, housing associations and community organisations up and down the country to get involved and to register their events during September.

Future Dust

The campaign is inspired by Future Dust, a large-scale artwork by Maria Arceo in the shape of a giant plastic footprint commissioned and as part of Totally Thames, the September-long annual celebration of the River Thames. The installation will tour to different riverside locations across London (full list below) and will be illuminated at dusk by Dutch interactive light artist Tim Scheffer.

Artist Maria Arceo spent a year collecting plastic from the Thames for her artwork, Future Dust

Maria has spent a year collecting plastic litter from more than 40 beaches along the tidal Thames with the help of Thames21 and many committed volunteers. During the year, she became a Thames21 Badged Group leader by completing the charity’s  Leading a Waterway Clean Up course, enabling her to lead clean-ups with volunteers. Special clean-ups were arranged to make sure plastic removed by Thames21 volunteers was incorporated into the sculpture.

The artwork acts as a dramatic representation of the plastic footprint that mankind is leaving on our rivers, streams and oceans.

Lead your own clean-up

Inspired by this huge artwork to take the next step and tackle the problem? If you want to put on your own event to clean-up your local river and you can’t access our popular Leading a Waterway Clean-up training, then download our free guide which gives you the basics to making your event a success. Individuals conduct clean-ups at their own risk.

Next step: register your clean-up event.

A launch event for the campaign is being planned for World Rivers Day, Sunday September 24.

Facts on plastic in our rivers

The Port of London Authority’s Driftwood Team, with Thames21, remove 200 tonnes of debris from the tidal Thames alone each year

Packaging represents 75% of the litter washed up on the Thames foreshore. Food related packaging is 65%, with food wrappers alone 20% – the top single type of item

It is estimated 6.4 million tonnes of litter enters the sea annually, according to the National Academy of Sciences in the USA

An estimated 80% of all marine debris found in the ocean is land based and 80-90% is made from plastic, according to the Last Plastic Straw campaign

Long-term change

Be inspired to make a commitment to long-term change by:

Visit Future Dust on display

Future Dust by Maria Arceo. A Totally Thames 2017 Commission. Image creation: Intro

Future Dust is a Totally Thames 2017 commission supported by King’s College London’s Departments of Chemistry and Geography, Cultural Institute at King’s, Arts Council England, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Hubbub and British Land. Transport and logistics has been supported by White’s Transport Ltd and the project offers special thanks to Thames21, Metal Culture and all the volunteers who have helped collect and sort the plastics.

The artwork will be on display at the following times and locations along the River Thames, London, in September.

  • Friday 1 Sep, 11am – 11pm  Potters Fields Park, SE1 2AA
  • Sunday 3 – Wednesday 6 Sep, 11am – 11pm  Oxo Tower Courtyard, Bargehouse Street, SE1 9PH
  • Friday 8 – Wednesday 13 Sep, 11am – 11pm  St. Katharine Docks, St. Katharine Marina, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA
  • Friday 15 – Wednesday 20 Sep, 11am – 11pm  Watermans, 40 High St, Brentford, TW8 0DS
  • Friday 22 – Saturday 30 Sep, 11am – 11pm  Canary Wharf, adjacent to Canary Wharf Pier, E14 8RR

See the list of registered events.

Campaign partners

The steering group behind the campaign is made up of Thames21, the Angling Trust, the Marine Conservation Society and The Canal and River Trust