Learning about nature in lockdown London

Canal view at Camley Street Natural Park credit James Cracknell

From March-April students from ELATT took part in an online Wild Action Programme with our Keeping it Wild project. They learnt about London's wildlife and our work here at the Trust. They investigated the issues London's wildlife faces, how they could take action to help it, and how a connection with nature is great for overall wellbeing - helping us cope with tough times such the pandemic.

ELATT is a learning community that helps people of all learning abilities move forward with their lives. They aim to tackle poverty and social isolation in our city by providing free training and whole-person support for marginalised young people and adults.
Their vision is to make London a city where everyone can flourish in their lives, no matter their age, background or circumstances.

Two students from the group, Adnan and Angelina wrote us a blog about their local wildlife experiences following the programme.

Plastic issues in east London by Adnan

During my time as a student at ELATT, I’ve had the satisfaction of participating in a project called Keeping it Wild, with teacher Laura Ashfield. We were taught online during the lockdown period of the coronavirus pandemic.  

I have recently been hearing about plastic issues, plastic pollution has become a major issue in east London where I live. During the lockdown have seen how plastic has affected my life and how it’s affecting different people from different age groups. I have seen lots of rubbish lying around and it is making me disappointed in my area, but by reporting the issue I can make a big difference in my community. This is why I wrote this blog, to share my thoughts about plastic waste and how we should care about our environment.

I have seen in Hackney how litter is thrown all over the floor. This can harm the environment by releasing hazardous chemicals.

Plastic in Hackney

Plastic in Hackney credit Adnan

This picture was taken in Hoxton, Hackney – showing the rubbish and plastic pollution I saw in east London where I live. I took many more pictures like this.

When I go for a walk by the canal near my house I can see how much plastic is there laying around and harming the wildlife. It has been recorded that 90% of the trash floating in our oceans is made of plastic, that’s around 46,000 pieces per square mile1. Most species digest it or can become entangled in plastic which can cause severe injuries or death. The wellbeing of the ocean is vital, without a healthy marine environment we won’t have a healthy planet.

Case studies have shown that annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide2. This is shocking to me, but it’s something we all use every day without thinking about it. Maybe if we all make one change we can do something to reduce plastic waste and not harm the environment so much.

 

From late March to April I had the fortune to experience nature in the lockdown. I want to help my local nature so raising awareness about littering and plastic pollution is something I can to do help.

People can get involved and help wildlife by doing these four things: reduce, reuse, recycle and if none of these are possible dispose of your waste properly. These four steps will surely reduce waste and can be achieved in many ways. People can get involved by checking what they can and can’t recycle with their local council, try and a use refill shops to reduce buying new plastics, taking a reusable bag when you go shopping and using a reusable water bottle.  

Reducing plastic waste is the key step we can do as humans to live in a better environment and help wildlife, by making a few small changes we can make a huge difference.

Cleaning up the canals for wildlife by Angelina

Hi there, my name is Angelina. I’m a college student studying at ELATT, as part of my Personal Social Development course I teamed up with Laura and Zahrah from the Keeping it Wild project to learn more about the environmental impacts of our actions as Londoners. Working alongside these women has helped me to increase my awareness of local environmental issues and how we can combat these problems. Read below to learn about what I have been experiencing in my local community. 

For the past decade I have had the fortunate circumstance to live right by the Regent’s Canal that runs through London. This canal is a hub for wildlife, nature and sadly rubbish. Unfortunately, on my many canal walks, during both day and night, I have seen a multitude of cases of overfilled rubbish bins, floating beer cans, broken bottles and plastic packaging. 

Every weekend there are markets that are held in areas near to the canal. These markets which attract a multitude of people from all over the country and the world offer many things such as home goods, jewellery and foods.  They are very popular. With this mass influx of people comes a load of waste that often ends up washing into our canal. This deeply distresses and saddens me. Rather than just moan about it on social media however, I decided to help do something about it. This has resulted in me going on walks on the days after the markets to help clear up the waters. But I am only one person and I can only have so much impact. To help alleviate the problem we need to get many more people involved.

The Canal & River Trust are currently running a #plasticschallenge encouraging people to go around their local canal area and pick up rubbish that they find and then get rid of it in the correct ways as well as posting images on social media of them collecting rubbish. I think this is a wonderful idea as it makes it more relevant for young people. If you care about the environment, you should really get involved with initiatives like these and help clear your local area of waste and rubbish.

Canada geese on the canal at Camley Street

Canal view at Camley Street Natural Park credit James Cracknell

My whole life I have been an advocate for nature as we share this planet with many animals and creatures, and we need to make sure that we do not destroy their habitats. As humans we often forget that our actions have consequences which not only affect us but also the flora and fauna around us. So, I urge you to get actively involved in helping your local environment.  Next time you are out and about, and you see some rubbish, try to pick it up and put it in the correct bins. We can all do our part to help save our canals and environments. I hope through reading this you will now begin to think twice about leaving your cups and cans on the sidewalks and instead carry it to a bin. Be sure to talk to others too and spread more awareness about the environmental impact of your waste. 

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experiences in my local area, I hope you can become an environmentally friendly person like me. Remember a little goes a long way in this world.

Sources:

1. The World Counts

2. Plastic Oceans
 

Keeping it Wild Trainees & Forum

Young people on the Keeping it Wild programme credit Penny Dixie

About Keeping it Wild

Keeping it Wild is an ambitious project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will empower and inspire 600 young people aged 11-25, from backgrounds currently under-represented in natural heritage, to gain vital skills while discovering, conserving and sharing their experiences of the capital’s wild spaces. 

Find out more