BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 05 Sept '18

British environmentalist set to paddle the length of New York’s Hudson River to tackle plastic pollution

Main image credit: Andy Hargraves

British environmentalist and adventurer Lizzie Carr is embarking on the challenge of a lifetime: to successfully travel the length of the Hudson River using entirely human-powered means – a paddle board.

The eight-day feat of endurance comes with an important environmental purpose – to highlight the issues of plastic pollution, ocean health and its role in climate change through a series of scientific sampling and community outreach initiatives on her route.

Almost a marathon a day

On 06 September Lizzie will leave Albany, New York State – the start of the tidal river – and take the first strokes of this 275km (170 mile) journey that will see her paddle for more than one week consecutively – almost a marathon a day – to cover the distance. Lizzie will be carrying 20kg of equipment on her paddle board, including a tent and supplies along the river.

Lizzie is no stranger to a challenge. After overcoming a battle with cancer in 2015, a year later she became the first person in history to paddle board the length of England solo.

During her record-breaking paddle boarding exploits through Britain’s inland waterways, Lizzie tracked more than 3,000 examples of plastic waste in 22 days.

In 2017 Lizzie became the first woman to solo paddle board across the Channel – another world first.

‘America is one of the world’s biggest consumers of single-use plastic, with 80% of it being used only once before it’s thrown away. This is a man-made problem and can be stopped by people and businesses thinking and acting more responsibly. 80% of marine debris starts from inland sources – including rivers like the Hudson – before it eventually flows out to the ocean. By addressing the problem of plastic pollution from its source we can tackle a global crisis effectively. I want my journey along theHudson to motivate people to take action, so together, we can make a real difference to resolve the global problem of plastics choking our seas.’

LIZZIE CARR
Adventurer

Lizzie will be collecting water samples for microplastic analysis and testing the latest Smartfin technology, fitted with sensors that measure multiple ocean and riverine parameters including temperature, location and water motion characteristics; helping to create a baseline for understanding riverine trends and ocean warming indicators.

Hudson River clean-ups

Earlier this year Lizzie founded the Plastic Patrol initiative – a community-driven volunteer scheme helping to clean up inland waterways by paddle board. The Londoner is also inviting people to join her along the Hudson in a series of beach clean-up operations in partnership with Riverkeeper and Hudson River Park Trust.

The clean-ups will take place on:

  • 09 September, 15:30-17:30, at Kaal Rock Park in Poughkeepsie
  • 12 September, 15:30-19:00,at Croton Point Park in Croton-on-the-Hudson
  • 14 September, 17:30-18:30, Pier 26 Hudson River Park, NY

There are free paddle board taster sessions at each clean-up.

Lizzie’s epic challenge will culminate on 15 September, when she will paddle through New York City and joins the APP World Tour to race to the final destination on her route – the Statue of Liberty – ending her adventure with purpose.

Plastics perpetrators

Having operated a series of successful plastic clean-up operations throughout the UK this summer and removing more than 80 tonnes of waste from waterways, Lizzie explains, ‘It’s through community efforts and people-driven initiatives like Plastic Patrol that we are able to build an evidence base for accountability of perpetrating brands and bring about meaningful change. My mission for this challenge is to create a legacy that empowers individuals and communities to tackle plastic pollution head on and believe that their individual actions, no matter how small, make a difference.’

All participants of the beach cleans will geo tag the plastic waste collected via the Plastic Patrol app to add to a growing global database. To date, the app houses crowdsourced uploads from 14 countries worldwide and shows more than 50,000 examples of global plastic hotspots. The app can be downloaded by anyone who wants to help catalogue plastic waste.

‘My overall aim is to rid the world of single-use plastic. The waterways should be a natural playground, not a dumping ground. I’m bringing my mission to America, as one of the worst offending nations when it comes to plastic pollution, to encourage people in the US and globally to take positive action in the fight to save the future of our planet.’

LIZZIE CARR
Adventurer

As part of her journey, Lizzie is creating a short documentary film, The Hudson Project, which will be distributed globally in 2019, spreading further awareness that people can take action to effect positive change in the battle against plastic pollution.