LONDON, England - Paddling the length of the River Thames isn’t something new, but doing it on two stand-up paddle boards (SUPs) made from plastic bottles is. The Whale Company wants to make a difference and work towards a more sustainable future, which is why they’re taking their message to the UK’s most famous waterway.
The Whale Company is a new charity that aims to promote a connection to nature through sports, the arts and crafts. They want to educate people about how to lead a more sustainable life and encourage children to come up with innovative solutions to the problem of plastic. Founders Carlos de Sousa and Carolyn Newton are no strangers to plastic pollution, having travelled the world making SUPs out of plastic bottles and completing 12 marathon paddles in 12 countries across Europe in 2017 on their Bottle Boards.
During their travels, they showed local community groups how to make their own SUPs out of plastic bottles. Now they want to educate people in the UK about the dangers of plastic pollution, and deliver a ‘message in a bottle’ to the UK’s parliament - in the form of bottle bunting. They are inviting the public to write their messages on their own piece of bottle bunting, (a template and instructions can be downloaded here www.thewhalecompany.co.uk/source2sea) which they’ll tie together to create a visual, innovative celebration of ideas for a more sustainable future.
Paddling in Italy and Macedonia on boards made from plastic bottles. | Photos Courtesy: Carolyn Newton
They plan to paddle the length of the Thames, from source to sea, to raise awareness of the issue. They will set out on World Oceans Day 8 June 2018, deliver the children’s messages to parliament on 26 June and complete their 300 km paddle in Gravesend on 28 June 2018.
The two boards they paddle the Thames on will be made of 220 two-liter fizzy drink bottles, showing how creative thinking can help tackle the problem. Along the way they will visit MPs in the constituencies they pass through to discuss what can be done to curb our reliance on single-use plastics, talk to school children about the problems we face and what they can do to help, collect their messages and arrange clean ups. They also want to invite people to join them for any of the legs of their paddle - dates and distances can be found on The Whale Company website.
“It’s been great to see public awareness of plastic pollution growing, but we need our politicians to stop dragging their heels and act now. The longer we delay in taking action, the more difficult it will be for our oceans and waterways to recover from the damage we’re causing through not only our plastic use, but also our poor recycling rates,” Carolyn explains.
Currently, just 24% of the five million tons of plastic used in the UK each year is recycled. Carolyn and Carlos believe that we need to completely rethink our use of plastic, and their passion to drive this change is why they established The Whale Company as a charity.
Carolyn and Carlos with their board made from plastic bottles. | Photo Courtesy: Carolyn Newton
Education is an important part of their philosophy, which led to the creation of their Bottle Boards workshops. By talking about how to use plastic waste in a different way and highlighting the problem to children and teenagers, Carlos and Carolyn hope to inspire the next generation.
Ahead of their Source to Sea paddle they have given several assemblies in schools and ran a Bottle Boards workshop at the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival on 12/13 May, where they built their first expedition board with the help of over 200 children.
For more information about their epic paddle, their plastic bottle SUPs or their efforts to promote more sustainable lifestyles, contact Carolyn Newton on 07870685994 or [email protected]
About The Whale Company
The Whale Company is a charity founded by Carolyn Newton and Carlos de Sousa to promote a more sustainable lifestyle, encourage more people to connect with nature and to change attitudes surrounding plastic use. They believe that education is the strongest tool to do this, because we protect what we love. Running Bottle Board workshops is one aspect of this - they want people to realize that enjoying water sports doesn’t have to be expensive, and to inspire creative thinking about how we deal with our plastic waste. For more information about their activities, visit here.