Around 50 volunteers collected rubbish from the banks of the River Thames on Sunday morning as the Great River Rescue got under way.
Campaigners say we need a nationwide public effort to clear our waterways of rubbish, and that attitudes towards single use plastics need to change.
The warning comes from waterways charity Thames 21, which has launched a national campaign asking people to organise their own litter picks on local rivers throughout October.
The campaign hopes to draw attention to how discarded plastics damage the environment, travelling from rivers into the sea where they harm marine wildlife.
Food related packaging makes up 65% of litter found in the Thames, while plastic bottles and their lids, and cotton bud sticks each account for 10%.
The findings come from 56 detailed litter surveys carried out in London between 2014 and 2016.
Campaign organiser Emma Harrington, from Thames 21 says we all need to take responsibility.
“People are motivated to help, you can see the energy here today but much more can be done and we need to stop people buying single use plastics when there are alternatives like glass or cardboard.”
Around 20 litter picks are already set to take place around the country. You can see the full list or to register you own event here.
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