Man on floating bicycle plucks 350kg of rubbish from the Thames in one year

A formermanagement consultant has picked over a quarter of a tonne of rubbish from London waterways using pedal power and his bare hands.

After nearly a year cycling on the surface of the Thames and two canals, on his floating bamboo bike, Dhruv Boruah is turning his attention to clearing litter from the river bed.

Mr Boruah, 35, from Westminster, uses a handheld litter-picker to fish out discarded items before placing them in two basket panniers.

Since October, he has plucked out 350kg of waste and in one half-hour gathered more than 250 discarded items. Volunteers in boats and on paddle boards have also helped. Plastic bottles , takeaway cups and crisp packets were some of the most common pieces of rubbish and the largest were traffic cones, car tyres and a toy plane.

It comes as the Canal and River Trust said its workers were removing a record four tonnes of duckweed from the surface of London’s waterways each day.The plant traps rubbish underneath. Mr Boruah ditched his City job to found The Thames Project after witnessing plastic pollution while competing in a yacht race from London to Rio de Janeiro. He has now cycled more than 300 miles along the Thames, Grand Union and Regent’s canals.

His lightweight bamboo mountain bike is rigged up to two flotation aids, with a pedal-powered propeller for acceleration and a rudder to steer using the handlebars.

Mr Boruah said: “I like to be on the water for the adventure, and the bike is so unique that it’s a good conversation starter to talk to people and raise awareness about the dangers of plastics, micro-plastics and toxic chemicals to stop these ending up in the ocean.

“We’ve found a lot of strange things in the water, but also underneath the surface, and plastics that have broken down into smaller pieces, as well as microfibres and wet wipes . There’s a lot of styrofoam cups and single-use packaging … The danger with styrofoam is ducks try to eat it, thinking it’s food … I’ve also seen people fly-tipping, chucking stuff directly on the canal.”

Mr Boruah recently gave a TEDx Talk about the project. Its next phase is trying to convince the authorities to send divers 20 feet down to the river bed “to help find out what’s happening underneath the river and canals”.

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