Meet the Volunteers – Ambassador

Name- Charlotte

Role – Community Ambassador

Project – Litter Free Maritime

How I came to volunteer

Having lived on St Mary’s Island since 2004, I’ve come to realise what a special place it is, not just because of all the residents and organisations that care for the area but because of our place in the delicate ecosystem of the River Medway.  As such I began to notice that the waste issues we read about in the media were also effecting us here on St Mary’s Island.  Plastic and other rubbish collecting in the river was particularly disturbing and I felt I wanted to act and help find solutions to this global problem.  By posting my thoughts about organising a community clean up event on social media, I immediately got a fantastic response from over 60 residents also wanting to support this event.  With this encouragement I contacted St Mary’s Island Residents Association and Chatham Maritime Trust and was delighted to hear that CMT were beginning talks with The Living River Foundation.  Within the month Living River Foundation and CMT had organised a litter picking event, which would not only help to protect the environment but also identify causes and solution to the problem.  Taking part in this litter pick, with my family, as a Volunteer Ambassador for LRF meant that I was able to reach my goal and by working with these inspiring organisations I hope that future events will mean that those in our community will be able to get involved in helping to repair and protect our environment.

Why I am an Ambassador

I wanted to take this chance to reiterate why I would like to organise Litter Pick events and perhaps other engagement in the future.
  • To raise awareness of environmental issues, the effect human lifestyles are having on the environment and how we can reduce consumption to help ourselves and our environment, (particularly associated with single use plastics).
  • To empower people in the community to get involved, to take responsibility and to bring the community together to help one another.

Year of firsts and more! 

This year is our first and it has been an amazing year for so many reasons; 

We took the first manta trawl samples of microplastics, in the Thames and Medway.  We have had a great number of volunteers join us, for which we are so grateful as we couldn’t have done it without you!  We did find microplastics, particularly beads, but we also found a lot more fibres and small bits of plastic items that have possibly degraded. We will have to wait for the analysis before we can be sure what either are from.  We also saw lots of larger pieces on the water surface including a balloon, and a chair! Check out the projects YouTube channel………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met you at the Kent County Show with Jetstream tours. You gave us the support and enthusiasm to keep us going. 

We still collected litter and balloons in abundance on the banks of the estuaries, we saw  the ‘blue planet effect’ now everyone seems to be talking about plastics in our packaging and products. Secretary of State Michael Gove has made a number of commitments to change the processes by which the waste we produce will change, as have a number of producers like Iceland, Nestle, and Tesco but these are still likely to take time, that the estuaries may not have.   

Next up

We aren’t giving up just because there are policy changes in the pipeline, we still believe being environmentally aware has to be affordable to be effective for future generation and therefore must be a common aim of the Great British nation. We have really enjoyed meeting our volunteers at shows and out on survey and we are looking forward to meeting more of you in future. 

We love all things reused, remade or recycled so we have created a Etsy shop of remade products out of reused materials, look out for workshops to help make your own products. We are teaming up with recycling companies to raise funds by recycling, stamps, phones, electrical equipment etc. 

Materials for the products and recyclable items can be donated for funding the work of the not for profit via our bins, currently at our base at the Medway Innovation Centre, in Strood. If you have a space for collection bins please get in touch.  We also have envelopes and details will appear shortly on our funding page.

At the moment we are concluding a number of discussions to some exciting new projects in the next six months. We are partnering with local businesses to help tell the story, for example Marie’s emporium, a plastic conscious shop in Gravesend, will be running soap making classes where you can also learn about the destination of microplastics from cosmetics. We will also be working with them to run drop in centres for waste and plastic advice.

Jetstream Tours has launched the Living River Talks, a three hour evening cruise on the Medway with a local speaker and dinner, starting in April. We are also in discussions with local trust and marine businesses to create a sustainable community litter reduction model for the Medway. Check out our events calendar for details. 

We will also be producing a litter survey method that allows you to send us data on what litter is where, or join us on a survey. We have designed it so you can do it from the path and don’t have to get too muddy! 

But we haven’t forgotten the microplastic pollution!  

Thanks to funding from Thames Water for this years microplastic samples on the Thames will continue. We are seeking funding for the Medway from other sources in addition to what we got through Crowd Science. But we are very pleased to say that we have been able to confirm that the University of Brunel will be analysing the samples we have already collected and those for the next couple of years. 

Come join us

We can’t achieve all this and more without your help, so please get in touch whether you want to run part of the project or help develop educational projects, or just monitoring litter on the paths where you live. Please get in touch, we are on Facebook, Twitter and email or drop us a text or call on 07809330969.