December 13, 2016
1:36 pm

Interview with adventurer & paddleboarder Lizzie Carr

Lizzie has probably paddle boarded further than most people, but it’s her passion for clean waterways that really caught our eye.

Last month we got to hear more about her adventures…

Lizzie, tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m an adventurer and environmentalist, and I take on challenges with the aim of raising awareness of environmental issues to help accelerate social change. Earlier this year I did my #PlasticPatrol challenge. This involved paddle boarding the length of England – 400 miles of inland waterways – to plot, map and scale every piece of plastic I encountered along my route.
As 80% of marine litter comes from inland sources – canals and rivers being a big contributor – I wanted to highlight the problem of plastic pollution at a very local level. If we can address the issue from our doorsteps we are improving the desirability of our inland waterways, protecting habitats for wildlife and helping to combat a global crisis.

Trash Raft. Photograph: Owen Tomkins/Barcroft Images

What inspires you?
I admire people who go out and set their own rules for life, turning their dreams and ambitions into reality. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and risk – but it’s all worth it if you can create a life that you’re in love with. Having the courage to take a leap of faith to achieve dreams and live with real meaning and purpose is very inspirational to me.

What was the most shocking finding from your #PlasticPatrol challenge?
After 22 days of paddle boarding along the waterways I was more saddened by what I saw than shocked.
There are a lot of the obvious cliché items – shopping trolleys, plastic bottles, shoes, plastic bags as well as other rubbish but it’s the sheer volume of it that’s so disheartening.
We’re facing the same problem on inland waterways as we are coastal, beautiful places littered with plastic and debris. I think it’s easy for people to become desensitized to it, and that in itself is worrying.

Why do you support Thames Baths?

If people start to develop relationships with the waterways – whether that’s through paddle boarding, swimming or any other activity – they will naturally fall back in love with them and take ownership. Projects like Thames Baths can only be a good thing for the community and for the wider environmental issues we’re facing.

Lizzie and Sean Conway on Lake Windermere

What 3 things can people do to prevent the current litter crisis?

The current issue we’re facing is complex and needs addressing at a number of levels to in order to create real, lasting and tangible change.

Individuals should try to be more environmentally conscious and think about their plastic footprint by making small but significant changes to their lifestyles. Equally, brands needs to be more accountable and give consumers alternatives to plastic at the point of purchase. Finally I think there needs to be more urgency for change at Government level. We have already seen the start of this with the planned banning of micro beads, which is great, but I see this as a starting point for wider changes on the issue.

Coasteering, Isles of Scilly

You’ve done some amazing things on the water but tell us a little bit more about how you overcame your fear of open water swimming?

My fear of the open water has held me back for longer than I care to admit, and it’s become increasingly frustrating. This summer, determined to finally confront it, I went to the Isles of Scilly and signed up to a coasteering session. I had managed to convince myself that it really wouldn’t be that bad – it was. I could feel the fear rise up as I swam along considering the possibilities of what was lurking in the depths ready to eat me… but I forced myself through it and eventually started to relax. By the end (mostly due to the adrenaline of jumping in from great heights), my fears had dissipated and I was honestly hooked, finally enjoying the sense of freedom of the sea. Onwards to my first open water challenge…

Thanks to Lizzie for her time answering our questions and we hope to paddle board through central London with Lizzie in 2017.