Woman Paddles Length of Hudson River to Spotlight Plastic Pollution

Lizzie Carr celebrates the completion of her paddle down the Hudson River. Photo courtesy: Fanatic

British  activist completes  170-­‐mile paddle boarding  challenge along the Hudson  River in New York to highlight  plastic pollution  

Double  world record  holder paddles  from Albany to Statue  of Liberty in eight-­‐day   endurance challenge, calling for  companies to take responsibility for  plastic they produce.

From Fanatic

Environmental   activist Lizzie   Carr has become  the first person to   successfully paddleboard the   navigable length of New York’s Hudson  River -­‐ a 275km journey from Albany in  from New York State to the Statue of Liberty.

Lizzie,  who paddled  for up to nine  hours a day for eight  consecutive days, confronted  unpredictable conditions throughout  her journey. The incoming Hurricane Florence  brought gusts of wind up to 30mph with large   swells along the East Coast. This, coupled with   intermittent thunderstorms, torrential downpours, strong currents  and commercial shipping traffic on a river that spans 3.5 miles  at its widest point, makes this feat of endurance all the more impressive.

Lizzie,   a passionate   environmental advocate   who founded the Plastic   Patrol initiative in the UK   following a cancer diagnosis that prompted  her to take up paddle boarding to recover,  took on this challenge to bring attention to  the issue of plastic pollution, ocean health and,  more broadly, climate change.

En  route  Lizzie conducted  a series of citizen  science activities to develop  a better understanding of water  quality on the Hudson River. She collected  water samples for micro plastic analysis and  hosted a series of beach cleans for local communities  that were attended by more than 100 volunteers and supported  by REN Clean Skincare.

Lizzie  says, “Paddle  boarding the Hudson  River was an incredible  way to explore and experience  New York but it didn’t come without  its challenges. It was physically demanding  and mentally draining with each day throwing  up new obstacles to navigate. This journey wasn’t  just about the thrill of adventure and because there  was a much bigger purpose at play I was even more determined  to see it through.”

The  USA is  one of the  world’s largest  consumers of single  use plastic and it’s  estimated that 90,000 pieces  of microplastic per square kilometer  were found floating in the Hudson River  in 2017.

Lizzie   and the   beach clean   volunteers collectively   photographed and plotted   more than 2000 examples of   plastic encountered along the Hudson   River, pulling into an interactive map   she developed (www.plasticpatrol.co.uk/map). The   map currently houses more than 50,000 crowd sourced  examples of plastic logged across 18 countries globally.

Lizzie  continues:  “I am thrilled  to have brought Plastic  Patrol to the USA and start  gathering really interesting and  important data on the types of plastic  we are finding, where it is situated and  which brands are most prolific offenders.”

“Gathering  and plotting  photographic evidence  is a really powerful way  of building evidence against  the brands and manufacturers responsible  for creating it and what better place to  end this challenge than in the heart of New  York City where a lot of these companies are based.”

Lizzie  is working  in partnership  with Riverkeeper  and Hudson River Park  to compare and analyse data   collected. Carrie Roble, Director  of Science and Stewardship at the  Hudson River Park Estuary Lab said:  “The Hudson River is one of the largest  estuaries in the United States, making it a  significant place for Lizzie to highlight how  microplastics are impacting the world’s waterways,”.

Carrie   continues,   “The Hudson   River Park Estuary   Lab began researching   the concentration of plastics  two years ago and is finding far  too many of these tiny plastics in  the Park’s waters. With Lizzie’s help,  we’re able to examine other parts of the  river, better assess the scale of the problem   and start developing solutions supported by science.  The Hudson River estuary is as unique as it is valuable,  and the health of its ecosystem deserves our commitment to reducing  pollution in these waters.”

Lizzie  concludes:  “By tackling  the problem at  from the root –  inland where 80 per  cent of marine debris  starts – we can really make  a difference. I was overwhelmed  by the positivity and support I  received from locals on my way. I  was joined on the water by people who  had been tracking my journey online and  others stopped on the shoreline who cheered  me on. It was incredibly motivating and really  illustrates how much people care about the issue.”

See   more from   Lizzie’s journey   via the hashtags  #plasticpatrol #savethefuture   #thehudsonproject and via her journey  tracker at www.lizzieoutside.co.uk/live-­‐tracker/

From Fanatic

The article was originally published on Standup Paddling

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