Man Bikes on Water to Clean Up Plastics

Video screen capture. The Thames Project/@dhruvboruah

Ladies and gentlemen, we've finally reached peak TreeHugger.

I joked on twitter that we'd reached peak Lloyd Alter on this story, but really we've reached peak TreeHugger. Just look at the basic component of this story:

1) A former management consultant turned environmentalist
2) A bicycle
3) A DIY hack to make that bicycle ride on water
4) Using that bicycle to collect trash from London's canals
5) Leveraging those efforts to get international attention to the scourge of plastic pollution
6) Open sourcing everything that's done, so folks can replicate the efforts

As reported over at CNN, it's all the brainchild of Dhruv Boruah, who's operating under the banner of The Thames Project. He basically cycles to a river or waterway with nothing but a backpack, converts his bike to run on water ("become like Jesus for a little bit," he jokes), and then sets off pedaling and collecting plastics and other trash. Along the way he enlists the help of other litter pickers on boats, kayaks and paddle boards. He then uses those efforts to garner media attention and encourage folks to refuse plastics in the first place.

Oh, and if that wasn't enough, the project also collects water samples and analyzes them for plastic pollution, and geotags litter locations to start forming an idea of where litter is most concentrated and therefore easiest to collect.

There's literally nothing I don't like about this story.

TreeHugger has long been a champion of efforts like #2MinuteBeachClean, United By Blue, Bali's One Island, One Voice or Boylan Slat's Ocean Cleanup Project. But critics will inevitably deride these efforts as "end of the pipe" bandaids that don't address the creation of pollution at source.

To me, that entirely misses the point. Increasingly, when I see folks engaged in waterway cleanups, they are using those cleanup efforts to highlight the problem, raise awareness, change behaviors and hold individuals, businesses, communities and policy makers accountable for stepping up and solving it.

As Dhruv Boruah says in one of his post cleanup videos:

"Why clean up the river? Refuse single-use plastics in the first place."