Lower Thames Estuary

On Sunday 27th September 2015, Rivercare and Beachcare groups across Eastern England held events to celebrate World Rivers Day. From source to sea volunteers worked to clear rubbish from our regions rivers, estuaries and coastlines.

'World Rivers Day is a global celebration of the world's waterways. It highlights the many values of rivers and estuaries and strives to increase public awareness and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world. Rivers are the arteries of our planet; they are lifelines in the truest sense.' Mark Angelo, Founder, World Rivers Day.

I joined the Southend Beachcare Group in glorious sunshine clearing litter with Essex Wildlife Trust volunteers, Green Party, Scouts, Thames21, Corys, and local residents at the beautiful Essex Wildlife Trust, Two Tree Island Nature Reserve, Leigh Marshes. We also joined by 250 hungry, Siberian Brent Geese, who watched us from the marsh, while munching on eel grass. These Artic visitors had just arrived after completing an epic migration and they will spend winter feasting on the rich Essex marshes.

Sadly there was plenty of rubbish on Leigh Marshes, however everyone tackled the job with great humour. We filled our bags with an array of litter including small plastics, aluminium cans, crisp packets, supermarket bags, plastic cups knives and forks, polystyrene, treated wood, laughing gas cases, cigarette butts and fly tipped green waste. Unusual fly tipped items of the day were a discarded hot tub, industrial waffle maker and a 10litre drum of doughnut oil.

It saddens me to think that rivers and coastline are perceived by a minority to be an easy option to throw away their rubbish, ignorantly believing that it will just float away out of site! How wrong can they be! Items like sweet wrappers, drink cans, plastic bags and plastic bottles and fishing line can take hundreds of years to degrade causing havoc in the process. Turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and sea birds ingest small plastic, which can get fatally stuck in their gullet. Save Our Seas estimated 86% of turtle species, 43% of seabird species, and 44% of marine mammals have plastics in their gut.

Everyone at the Southend Beachcare event agreed that people should stop using our seas and rivers as a giant waste bin and take some responsibility for their environment.

Thirty five volunteers collected 160kg of rubbish, filling 48 bags and removed a multitude of bulky items littering the marshes.

If you are interested in joining Southend Beachcare, please contact Group Leader, Lauren Hollas via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Written by Robert Martyr, Keep Britain Tidy


Thames Estuary – Lower

WFD water body status


WFD overall status objective


Project type

Litter Clearance

Project lead

Keep Britain Tidy

Contact for more information

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Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           ESWT Logo 70

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting based on an original concept by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust