The Thames Plastic Problem
The river Thames has always been a dumping ground for pollution in London. At first it was just excrement, then industrialisation happened and chemicals got mixed in. But now the Thames is facing an even more devastating disaster.
Plastic levels have been slowly building up for years and are now at breaking point. Experts from Royal Holloway University of London have discovered that 75% of flounders have consumed plastic. This means it is potentially entering the food chain and could lead to dangerous conditions for humans too. Plastic in oceans is a problem we are beginning to understand but there is no real research into its effect on rivers.
The Port of London Authority (PLA) has been working to try and undo the damage caused by plastic in its waters. Along with a number of key environmental partners, the PLA has been running the Cleaner Thames Campaign. The initiative attempts to raise awareness of this important issue and to try and find a suitable resolution. Every year around 300 tonnes of rubbish is recovered from the river. And in recent years a large proportion of this has been plastic.
Plastic entering the food chain and poisoning humans is deeply concerning but it will harm other wildlife too. Rainham Marshes is the largest RSPB nature reserve in London and many campaigners believe it is at risk because of the rising levels of pollution. There are in excess of 125 different species of fish currently living in the Thames. This doesn’t account for other animals like frogs, newts, birds and crabs that rely on the river for sustenance.
Jon Cruddas MP who represents Dagenham and Redbridge has thrown his support behind the clean-up campaign. On his website he said, “One of the worries is that Rainham Marshes, which is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna backs onto the Thames, and if pollution levels continue to rise it could pose a threat.”
To ensure the Thames is safe for wildlife, it is not just about cleaning it up. It is about changing our behaviours. We need to work together as Londoners to minimise the amount of rubbish we throw out and especially reduce what is flushed down the toilet. Only by doing this will we ensure the Thames is a haven for wildlife for the foreseeable future.
Will you improve your recycling efforts to protect the Thames? Share your thoughts in the comments and on our social media pages.