What happens when you get stand-up paddle boarders to tackle the global issue of single-use plastic in London? The Plastic Ocean Festival opens this month and we're proud to be supporting it, but what is single-use plastic and why should you care? 

How much plastic waste do humans really produce?

Did you know we produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year – the equivalent to the weight of all humans on the planet? This is a growing epidemic which is only getting worse, especially due to our over reliance on single-use plastic.

What is single-use plastic?

Single-use plastic is what it says on the tin – plastic that we as consumers tend to use only once before throwing away. But at what cost? Plastic bags have an average lifespan of 15 minutes, only to spend around 20 years decomposing. This gives it plenty of time to clog up our rivers and oceans and enter the digestive systems of creatures that live there. There are many ways we can help reduce our impact, including…paddleboarding!

Why paddleboard?

Since 2011, Paul Hyman of Active 360 has been organising litter picks on paddleboards. He began paddleboarding a few years ago, and could not ignore the amount of plastic on London’s waterways and how this was part of a global issue getting little attention! Last year, as part of Totally Thames, Active 360 organised an array of events including litter picks and monitoring of litter levels to raise awareness of plastic pollution.

Plastic Ocean Festival

Active 360 are now collaborating with the Plastic Oceans Foundation and Brunel University London to create the Plastic Ocean Festival that opens this month to promote and raise awareness of the damaging effects plastic pollution is having on the Thames, and increase understanding that this is part of a global issue. Central to the festival are screenings of the film A Plastic Ocean, which David Attenborough has described as “One of the most important films of our time” addressing issues of plastic pollution. These screenings will be complemented by environmental talks, paddleboarding and river clean-ups to encourage direct action raised by the film.


We spoke to Paul Hyman, Active 360 about why the festival is so important:

 “Marine plastic pollution is a huge, growing problem around the world. Many rivers and oceans including the Thames are affected. The film A Plastic Ocean is helping people to understand the scale of the problem and how we all need to work to reduce our reliance on single use plastic. Combining this with on water and foreshore clean ups in London we will help to raise local awareness and we are pleased to make events the Plastic Ocean Festival - also part of the Totally Thames this September ”

Through this active engagement and action, Plastic Ocean Festival is tackling an issue which not only affects our ecosystem and the wildlife living in it – but also what we eat and our own health. Chemicals that are produced by plastic in water are ingested by plankton, making its way up the food chain and onto our plates. These chemicals – such as Mercury and pesticides, are associated with a myriad of health problems including Alzheimer’s and kidney damage.  

Get involved

It's not too late to help make a change, A Plastic Ocean is being screened, with Paddle & Pick sessions throughout April and beyond: 

  • KuPP. Paddington, Merchant Square, Sunday 21st May, 10am
  • Merchant Square, Paddington,  Tuesday 18 July, 6pm