Vale Teacher Leads Community Waste Plastics Clear Up

Date: July 31st 2019

More than 30 bags of plastic and rubbish were pulled from the River Darwen on Saturday, by a group of volunteers led by Darwen Vale High School teacher, Norton Johnston.

The group picked the discarded waste in just two hours, from a 150m stretch of the River Darwen at Feniscowles.

Mr Johnston said: “We only covered a tiny stretch but the amount we found was unreal. It wasn’t hard to find the rubbish. It was just there, floating around in the water. There were tonnes of plastic bottles and cans, and even a crutch, a bike and a scooter.”

Along with Scouts from Immanuel Feniscowles Scout Group, members of the Keep Darwen Tidy (KDT) group also took part.

Mr Johnston said the river litter pick was done in conjunction with a recycling project he has been pioneering at school, that encourages his students to think more about rubbish by setting them a challenge to see which form could collect the most plastic bottles.

And within just six weeks, the 28-year-old said pupils had managed to collect 15,000 plastic bottles.

He said: “The enormity of it is staggering, when the David Attenborough documentary (Blue Planet II) came out, we knew then that we needed to do something about the state of our rivers.

“I came down here one afternoon and picked a load of plastic and rubbish from the river on my own and it took me ages as there was so much, so that’s when I knew I wanted to organise an event and get others involved.”

Mr Norton said there used to be a litter trap at Witton Park, which would collect all the rubbish and prevent it from travelling further along the river, but it stopped working, causing litter to accumulate in the water.

He said Darwen engineering company WEC were offering funding to rebuild the trap for free and will get their apprentice engineers to come up with a solution.

By getting the community working together and raising awareness, Mr Norton hopes that people might think twice about how much rubbish they throw away and where they dispose of it, as more often than not, discarded litter ends up in waterways.

Report from the Lancashire Telegraph

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