The Thames Litter Problem

In 1957, the amount of oxygen in the River Thames fell so low that no life could survive and the mud reeked of rotten eggs. As a result, the River Thames was in fact declared biologically dead.

The river has come a long way since. There are now 125 species of fish swimming beneath its surface and more than 400 species of invertebrates living in its waters and mud banks. In fact, the River Thames was in 2010  awarded the Theiss River Prize, an award which recognises the outstanding sustainability and river management programs put into place in order to make the Thames a thriving natural habitat. This award is justified when it’s considered that numerous rare species have now been found in the waters, most notably David Curnick, of the Zoological Society of London, recently found four short snouted sea horses in the saline waters of the Thames Estuary.

However, as Delphis Eco made known, it is not all good news for the Thames, with over 1000 individual instances of pollution being released into the water over the past nine years. Over the weekend we were also witness to an alarming amount of waste sitting on the waters of the Thames just outside our offices in Wandsworth. These shocking images of Greylag Geese making their way into the water whilst having to negotiate plastic bottles, plates, flower pots, tennis balls and numerous other items of debris brings into question how clean the Thames actually is. This question is especially pertinent when just 500 metres further up the river lies a beautiful wild flower bank, which provides a thriving habitat for bees, insects and small birds on the banks of the Thames. It is these kinds of projects that must be applauded and should continue to be funded and commissioned as the Thames moves forward in its bid to become a cleaner waterway.

We can see therefore that cleanliness is not uniform along the Thames but somewhat disparate. This is something that must be addressed and we believe that the various councils and boroughs through which the Thames flows are doing a good job. It is unfortunate that in spite of all this good work being done, rubbish is still being deposited into the Thames by individuals at an alarming rate. Delphis Eco deplores littering, and we congratulate and support groups like Keep Britain Tidy, whom we have a partnership with on the Eco-Schools programme, who are seeking to solve the problems. Perhaps the councils can do more to discourage people throwing their litter onto the floor or into the river, publicity campaigns showing the resulting damage that plastic can have in the river and then the oceans would help this, whilst the simple instillation of more rubbish and recycling bins would make putting rubbish in the bin a simpler process. In the meantime we must continue to look after and take pride in our river in the hope that over time, the Thames will become a wholly clean and wildlife friendly waterway. 

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