Happy Earth Day!

It’s Earth Day, and here in New England, everything seems to be turning Spring! With the recent rain we’ve had and warm temps, the buds on the trees have opened and color is popping everywhere! It helps make Earth Day feel that much earthier. (earthier?…I’m sticking with it :) ).

On Earth Day, we reflect on the Earth, its sometimes-fragile beauty, and the impact that we have on it as humans. It’s easy on a day that celebrates the whole Earth to think big: big National Parks and vast Marine Sanctuaries. But it’s also important to look closer to home.

A recent instagram post showed highlights from our paddle up the Danvers and Crane Rivers to an all but forgotten bend just beneath Rt. 128:

Though thousands drive by it everyday, its neglect was evident in the shopping carts, old tires, and crumbling structures along its shore. And yet, it was beautiful in its own right, in the glimpses of what it once was, what it is now, and what it could be again.

When we think about protecting the Earth, we need to think about protecting all of it, from the majestic places that grace coffee table photo books to the small streams that run, often beneath concrete culverts, through our cities and towns. We need to look past the trash along a polluted river or garbage strewn along a neighborhood beach and find the beauty in the places that lie steps from our doors.

It is with this in mind that we’re excited to announce our partnership with the U.K. based organization Plastic Patrol, which is dedicated to the goal of removing plastic pollution from our world’s waterways! In 2016, the organization’s founder, Lizzie Carr, became the first person to paddle the length of the U.K.’s waterways, a 400-mile journey during which she took over 2,000 photos of plastic and other trash, geotagging them to be used for research, education, and awareness. After this trip, while continuing to check off several “paddling firsts” (including the first woman to standup paddle across the English Channel, and first to standup paddle the length of the Hudson River) Lizzie founded Plastic Patrol, and since then has sponsored Plastic Patrol Cleanups in over 30 countries, working with volunteers both on and off the water to collect, geotag, and properly dispose of nearly 100,000 pieces of plastic and other pollution!

We posted in an Instagram story about Lizzie and her organization shortly after learning about them, and that same day she reached out to see if Coast to Coast wanted to get involved. Of course we did, and after a phone call with Lizzie, Ashley and I agreed that we wanted to help out in any way we could. We’re proud to say that this summer we are hosting the first Plastic Patrol Partnership Cleanups (PPX) in the U.S.!

We’re starting off with three cleanups over the course of the summer, and hope that we can add more as it grows! We’ll donate the use of our paddleboards to volunteers that sign up, and as a group we’ll take to the water, collecting trash we find and geotagging it through the Plastic Patrol App, where we’ll be able to see just how much of a positive impact we’re having! We started using the app on our Winter Paddle Tours, and so far have catalogued about 15 pieces of trash. While this doesn’t seem like much, winter paddles have always seen less pollution, as so many fewer people take to the water (it’s one of the reasons we love winter paddling!) As the weather gets nicer, we know that, unfortunately, that number is going to grow quickly.

However, we also know that as the weather gets nicer, more paddlers will be taking to the water, and paddlers seem, in their nature, to want to clean up the waterways. We’re excited to share this organization with you, and hope that you’ll use the app both on your own paddles and on our cleanups. You can check out the dates for our cleanups here, and we’ll be putting out more information as it draws closer! Until then, Happy Earth Day!

Aaron Mearns