Rotary Talk – River Thames One of Most Plastic Polluted Rivers in Europe

Like many, do you just think that plastic pollution is just a problem in our oceans and seas?

Gert-Jan van Dommelen, thought that too after watching BBC Blue Planet and didn’t connect it with his lifestyle until he started to read about micro-plastics in rivers too.  Gert-Jan is now leading up Rotary International’s End Plastic Soup worldwide initiative to achieve a ban by 2050 of all plastics in our oceans, seas and plastic waste in lakes, rivers, forest, parks and streets.

Gert-Jan was the speaker at this month’s Henley Rotary Club’s webinar on Tuesday evening.  He spoke about how the Rotary’s initiative is working with governments and organisations around the world to achieve the ban and encouraged people to get involved. Talking about rivers, he said the River Thames is the most polluted river in  Western Europe.

He told the audience we produce 1 million plastic bottles every minute and that plastic never goes away – it just gets smaller. Micro-plastics end up in our water and food supplies.  You eat, drink and breathe them — a typical human could be consuming more than 74,000 indigestible plastic micro-particles a year.  He said only 2 toothpaste brands are microplastic free!

What are the solutions?  Gert-Jan said, “We need to build awareness, reduce our plastic use and start thinking about what other materials we can use instead.”  He recommended downloading the Mylittleplasticfootprint app to find ways to do this and to find out which products have micro-beads in them to download Beat the Microbead app which you can scan the barcode on products to check whether they have micro-beads in them.

Gert-Jan also showed a number of solutions the Rotary are looking at doing around the world which included bubble barriers for rivers to trap the plastics but still allowed the fish to swim freely.  He added though, we need worldwide governments to introduce plastic policies and put up taxes on new plastic.

To watch the full video go to

If you are interested in becoming a Rotary Club member, please email Phil Fletcher on



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