Starting today, Cal Major, a veterinary surgeon and founder of the Paddle Against Plastic organisation, will be stand up paddleboarding from its first navigable point on the Welsh and English border out to sea.

The aim of the expedition, which runs until September 16, is to explore the amount of plastic in the water from source to sea, as well as the relationship between people’s lives inland and the ocean.

Cal said she hoped the expedition, which begins in Mid Wales and winds its way through Shropshire, would highlight the importance of tackling the issue of plastic polluting the oceans.

She has previously claimed a world’s first by stand-up solo paddle boarding the length of the UK.

She said: “I’m excited to demonstrate that no matter how far we live from the sea in the UK, we’re all connected to it through the network of inland waterways running like arteries and veins through our country.

“These waterways are here for all of us to enjoy, and the more connected we feel to these blue spaces which have been proven to be beneficial to our mental health, the more we’re going to want to protect them.

“We all have the ability to make positive change with our day to day actions and within our communities, and that’s what we’ll be talking about during the expedition. It’s going to be a tough week; I’ll be paddling 30 plus miles a day, but I’m really looking forward to experiencing the beautiful River Severn and its wildlife and people.”

Reconnection

The expedition is being supported by the Midcounties Co-operative, which has also been tackling single-use plastic with its One Change campaign that launched in 2019.

Amongst other actions, The Midcounties Co-op switched from plastic to compostable bags, preventing the production of approximately three million plastic carrier bags each year.

The issue has gained prominence in recent years with figures showing 80 per cent of marine litter originates from land-based sources, often ending up in waterways that take it out to sea.

Cal said: “Even if we don’t live by the coast, we all have the ability to reduce the amount of plastic that can find its way into the ocean.

“This expedition will be bringing a daily call to action of how we as individuals and communities can do this, and how reconnection to natural places can not only improve our mental health, but encourage us to protect the places we love.

“A recent study by the Canals and Rivers Trust found that if each person visiting the waterways picked up just one piece of litter, they could be free from waste in just one year.”

A short film will be made, which will be aired on September 24 at a special online webinar and Q&A session with Cal and the Midcounties Co-op. The expedition can be followed via @CalMajor_, @midcountiescoop on Twitter.

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