In 2020 we are embarking on a new opportunity to provide a way to reduce reliance on plastic and waste. We are also hoping to help others who don’t have the budget to make big changes easily.

If you are creative this is up your street. We have partnered with Faye from Unravel and Unwind to create a series of courses for you to make reusable items. 

There are issues with items having an impact on the environment, but in general the more you can reuse the same product again and again, the lower the impact becomes.  Funny enough; so does the cost!

Don’t you think it might be time to think local, reusable and reduce monthly spending?

So what’s the problem? 

  • Estimates between 1 billion sanitary items are flushed down the loo (when they should not be), and 4.3 billion are used every year.
  • Many sanitary or hygiene products are made of up to 90% plastic.
  • We have collected the plastic remnants from the Medway and Thames estuaries that have escaped past treatment works, or via miss connections and storm discharges. 
  • Given that an average women spends over £400 a year, this equates to over £18,450 a lifetime, that is a lot of money to flush or throw away! 
  • An increasing number of women cannot afford to pay for sanitary items for their periods or incontinence and have to lock themselves away as a result, reducing what they can earn for themselves or their family. 
  • Clingfilm is one of the least recyclable plastics in the UK, used once and thrown away. 
  • Estimates state over 40 million rolls are used in the UK each year. 
  • Microfibers of plastic are an increasing problem and come from cleaning products, cloths, clothes and many other daily items that we just wash down the sink!
  • Beeswax has antibiotic properties that helps reduce mould, but keeps moist food like cheese from drying out. 

What can little old me do?

Well I learnt myself by trying different methods, burning myself on wax and getting in a tangle of yarn. But, that’s definitely not the best advice to follow, with Faye we can learn how to make our own, to fit our own lifestyle and our own aspirations for the future. 

Thats why the Foundation are running fun courses with Faye from Unravel and Unwind to learn about how to make your own reusable items. Even if you use these items for part of the time it will massive reduce what you throw away.

We are using (as far as possible) natural fibres and materials, we reuse the remnants from the courses even the scraps! We have even sourced our beeswax from a local source, others are UK based. 

Heres the best part; 

If you aren’t a crafty person, Faye is the best teacher ever. I managed to master a sewing machine that I haven’t used for over two years. 

If you don’t ‘need’ these items? How about making them for someone who can’t afford the disposable ones? To make a massive difference to local people on the poverty line we are partnering with local hygiene and food banks to make sure the products we teach you to make are able to be donated to those who need them. 

But if you still think it not for you, how about buying one place on? Buy a gift voucher- note it is to ‘buy one on’  and we will offer the place to someone who can’t afford to come. 

Or you can donate the materials we need to make these items so that we are not having to buy new items unnecessarily. 

If there is a group of you, we can always come to you, over some tea and cakes we can all make a small difference that can add up to a big change. 

Useful Links

Craft Workshops



This week sees the National Council of Volunteer Organisation celebrates the power and contribution of volunteers. This is critical resources for charities like Living River Foundation. On the 11 October UK wide they celebrated #YoumakeitHappen

While the Foundation focuses on Estuarine habitats, in the Medway particularly, but also with our Thames Manta project, we are really lucky. From February 2018 when we were formed, we have achieved so much already!

We have fantastic partners like Brunel University, MDL Marinas and Chatham Maritime Trust.

We still have so much to give, and with our fantastic volunteers we will be able to do so much more. Our founders & trustees, also volunteers look forward to meeting more volunteers in the future.

If you would like to volunteer for Living River Foundation sign up here or if you would like to fundraise for us please drop us an email at

If you are not able to jump from a boat don’t worry, there are plenty of things to do!! We are an entirely volunteer lead organisation. So we need fundraisers, data collation, GIS experts, coordinators, retail liaisons, event managers, clean up organisers, stall attendants.

If you are keen and motivated we need you!!

Be part of next years celebration of volunteer effort..

Hannane from Chatham Historic Dockyard wrote about her experience with us sampling the Medway for World Ocean Day. Orginal post here

In recognition of World Environment Day on 5 June and World Ocean Day on 8 June, our National Portfolio Organisation Programme Coordinator, Hannane Ford, joined forces with Living River Foundation to collect samples of microplastic from the River Medway.

Living River Foundation  is a local not for profit organisation set up to monitor and raise awareness to protect and improve the Thames and Medway rivers.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic which can unfortunately become embedded into the natural environment and are now present within the air, soil, rivers and oceans.

Read Hannane’s blog on her first experience of microplastic surveying on the River Medway, with ocean advocate and one of the founders of the foundation, Tanya Ferry…

When I think about Medway, I think of the river. Whether it’s overlooking the Dockyard, which serves as a reminder of our maritime heritage, or the backdrop along one of the many river walks, the River Medway is ever present.

We all know that water is the source of life and this is no different for the River Medway and its estuary marshes, which provide the perfect place for breeding and wintering birds such as heron, marsh harriers, lapwing and little egrets.

Tanya and I spent a very a chilly but rewarding Saturday morning on the Medway searching for the tiny fragments of plastic, which measure less than five micrometres. Some microplastics are manufactured intentionally and others are formed over time, when larger plastic items such as plastic bags become brittle and break down.

We travelled by boat to two sample sites and upon reaching the coordinates; we deployed our manta net over the side of the vessel. River water collected from the mouth of the net, flowed through to the small container attached to end of the net (the container is known as a cod end). The net mesh measures 0.3mm, so any debris larger than that is captured by the cod end.

After fifteen minutes had passed, we reeled the manta net in, removed the cod end from the net and drained the contents into a stack of sieve trays. The top sieve revealed mainly organic matter, sediment, seaweed, reeds and jellyfish, which we carefully placed back into the river. But as we de-stacked the sieve trays and the sieve mesh began to narrow, we started to see tiny plastic fragments within the sediment. These plastic fragments are difficult to detect (just imagine how the wildlife must feel) yet when you really look for them, you realise they are prevalent.

We used small hand tools to collect the microplastics from each sieve and placed into glass jars. These jars will now be sent to Brunel University for analysis as part of a strategic study of microplastic within the Medway Estuaries and Thames. The results of the study will be published at the end of the year.

Tanya had asked me if I could identify some of the plastic I had collected from the sieves. I recalled seeing blue fragments that almost looked like chipped paint, synthetic fibres as well as what appeared to be typical microbeads. To my surprise, Tanya informed me that although microbeads were banned in 2018 in the manufacture of rinse-off products (such as toothpaste and scrubs) it is still widely used in domestic cleaning products such as laundry detergents and washing-up liquid.

Being able to witness first hand the presence of microplastic in the River Medway  made me realise the collective responsibility it takes to protect our environment, our wildlife and each other. What may seem as simple everyday consumer choices can have a long-lasting impact – so we need to be able to make our choices wisely and sustainably.

We all have a part to play and it starts with being aware of the issues to create positive change. Here at the Dockyard we are currently developing an Environmental Impact Strategy to ensure we continue to operate ethically and sustainably and to empower our visitors and all users of the site to do the same. The Dockyard is fortunate to have a thriving community that are actively engaging with us on environmental issues and we will continue to drive this agenda forward for the benefit of all.

I would like to thank Tanya and Richard Bain of the foundation for taking the time to let me experience microplastic surveying first hand and I look forward to working with them again in the future to further understand the environmental impact microplastics have on our natural environment.

Why have you written this book?

I have worked on estuaries for a long time and spend a lot of time telling people that they are important and cleaner than they have ever been.  Most of the time people don’t believe me! 

There are a lot of passionate people that work on the estuaries, protect the wildlife and use them for recreation or trade. Once you understand little bit more about them, you will be hooked to help the estuaries, just like our volunteers.  


Wouldn’t it be great to have more people understanding the way the Thames and Medway work to protect it, but how does the public know what lives there, if we don’t show them. 


What does it do?

I have listed a number of important birds, mammals, fish and insects that live along the river, using stunning illustrations to show their features.  We have collected best advice and guidance as to where and when to see the animals, responsibly of course, as well as a bit of history and fun facts about the estuaries.   


Who is it for?

Anyone who enjoys the Thames and Medway estuary and wants to learn more about it. It’s a handy size to keep in the glovebox of a car, on your boat or in the inside pocket of your jacket for that coastal walk or picnic next to the waters edge.


Where can it be purchased?

At the moment is it only available online as a pre order, as the final publication date will be later in June.

In due course, once lockdown allows various businesses are allowed to open we are hopeful that you may find it in your local chandlery, yacht club and pub. But we will be ensuring that any profits in this book is returned to the Living River Foundation to support their important work.


For a second time we were lucky enough to see some amazing birds, and impressive weather!

Kev provided us a short twenty minute talk so that we could focus on what we saw outside. But don’t worry his commentary watching the airport of Medway visitors  is now available here;

In the Spring Jetstream Tours kindly agreed to host Fish and Chip cruises with Living River Foundation, featuring guest speakers; local experts to show you the hidden treasures of the Medway and the Thames.

Our first guest speaker was Hayley Tayler from the project Birdwise. She talked through the fantastic array of the birdlife that visit the estuaries to breed or feed. As a site on the north European migration it is important to minimise the disturbance we have on the birds to help their populations stay healthy. The Medway sports “Michelin star mud” for the birds and is really valuable for them.

Hayley shared amazing facts about the estuary and admitted to not seeing the Mediterranean tern yet, despite two years into her role.

After our fish and chips, wrapped in cardboard (of course), we used the opportunity to spot a few birds on the islands out in the medway estuary.  We were definitely in breeding season and there was plenty to see, brent geese, oyster catchers, Common Tern and Herring Gull.  Then out of nowhere Hayley sees her first Mediterranean Tern….. and it terns (sorry) out since she is now on a roll!

On our return we had a great chance to enjoy lots of picturesque views of the Medway sunset from the water, while the gulls followed the boat back to Rochester.


If you want to join us check out our events calendar or book on

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.