LARGER Can and Canal and River Trust volunteers

Animals and knives found in Ealing canal cleanup

Volunteers of LAGER Can collected more than 1,000 sackfuls of rubbish, finding knives and animals during a litter blitz on Ealing’s canal towpaths.

To mark the national Great British Spring Clean, LAGER Can – the litter Action Group for Ealing Residents teamed up with Canal & River Trust for a two week tidy-up.

Covering all 11.5 miles of the Grand Union towpath lying within Ealing borough, it took the group 13 sessions to clear the mountains of litter.

Three volunteers standing behind a mountain of rubbish sacks filled with rubbish.
Volunteers spent 261 hours clearing rubbish (credit: Mark Percy)

LAGER Can’s Cathy Swift said: “I am convinced that this kind of litter would disappear overnight if a deposit return scheme was introduced.

“Even if the people who buy the products did not collect their deposits, someone else would.” 

The majority of the litter consisted of cans and bottles but they also found a dead cat, two dead goats, and a machete.

A photo of a machete found in the Ealing canal, held up by one of the volunteers.
A machete found by LARGER Can along the canal (credit: Cathy Swift)

But Swift says that the discovery of weapons is nothing new.

Swift said: “In the past four years we have found at least three guns and many, many knives.

“I have personally found five or six large knives or machetes.”

Fly-tipping from boats and adjacent housing were particularly prevalent along the towpath between Northolt and Alperton.

A total of 472 bags of rubbish and 668 bags worth of ‘unbaggables’ (credit: Mark Percy)

Swift claimed litter picking is made all the more challenging by the lack of bins on the canal in Ealing borough, and didn’t buy the argument that bins attract rubbish.

Swift said: “Bins, if installed, need to be emptied when they are full. If not they look as if they are encouraging bad behaviour when, in fact, they are doing the opposite.

“It’s clear from the work we’ve done over the past four years that many people want to do the right thing.

“For example, a giant plant pot at Hayes Bridge is being used as a bin.

Volunteers pulling out a shopping trolley from the canal (credit: Jacquie de Bidaph)

“I feel that the absence of bins, and failure to clean the rubbish up, sends a message that the people in authority don’t care.”

LARGER Can and the Canal & River Trust have been working together since January 2022 with monthly ‘litter cruises’ in Southall.

Swift added: “We believe that if we continue to work cooperatively we can make a real difference to what should, after all, be a beautiful place to spend time.”

Canal & River Trust Volunteer Coordinator Gareth George said: “The team made a real difference making life by water better for everyone.”

The majority of rubbish cleared was of cans and bottles (credit: Mark Percy)

Featured image credit Mark Percy

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