1344. Lizzie Carr
Lizzie Carr, from Nottingham, is an environmental activist who launched the #PlasticPatrol campaign, inspiring volunteers to join her in paddle-boarding Britain's waterways to clean litter and raise awareness of plastic pollution.
Lizzie was diagnosed with stage two thyroid cancer at the age of 27 and told she may not survive. She started paddle-boarding after her radiotherapy treatment to support her recovery, and taking to the rivers and canals of London made her realise the scale of plastic pollution and how 80% of marine litter originates from inland. To raise awareness and encourage others to feel empowered to take action over the issues they care about, Lizzie undertook a challenge in 2016 to paddle-board the length of England’s waterways, covering 400 miles in 22 days. In 2017 she then became the first woman to solo paddle-board across the English Channel. Off the back of these challenges, Lizzie launched the #PlasticPatrol initiative to transform her solo expeditions into a global movement encouraging communities to collect litter together on coordinated clean-ups at their local waterways. Her initiative has since expanded to 66 other countries, with over 8,000 volunteers worldwide collecting more than 280 tonnes of plastic rubbish. She has also created a #PlasticPatrol app to help people categorise litter and collect crucial data on plastic pollution.
Lizzie attended an International Women’s Day reception at No.10 Downing Street, where she was presented with her award by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds.
In a personal letter to Lizzie, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how your #PlasticPatrol campaign has inspired thousands of people worldwide to take to their local waterways and work together to tackle the terrible scourge of plastic pollution.”
“It’s a huge honour to receive the Points of Light Award for my work in tackling the devastating impact of single use plastic.
“Over the last five years Plastic Patrol has evolved from a one woman crusade to a global movement of community activists who, like me, are passionate about taking action on this and wider environmental issues affecting the planet.
“I truly believe solutions can only be found from insight and collaboration and, as such, I have been working with major industry players, using crowdsourced data collected by our volunteers all over the world to provide an evidence based approach as part of a circular economy.
“More recently I have been engaging in conversations with DEFRA, and it fills me with hope for the future that voices like mine are not only being heard but supported at every level.
“This moment is truly special for me. To be recognised for the impact my work is having is a huge motivator to keep going.”