Volunteering for the Thames riverbank clean-up
How about grabbing a pair of wellies and helping to make a real difference to your environment this spring?
If you fancy that you can volunteer with one of the country's leading waterways charities, Thames21, and join in a series of riverbank clean-ups across the capital.
More than 100 willing helpers gathered at Island Gardens last week to take part in the Big Clean-Up, an annual event focused on the foreshore close to Ferry Street.
Programme coordinator Alice Hall said: "The reason we work with volunteers is because no one is responsible for removing rubbish from the river - not the council and not the Environment Agency. That's why Thames 21 was set up - without volunteers it would not happen.
"Thames 21 run events all over London - on the Thames, its tributaries and the canal network. We have individuals who come a number of times a month and people who just come as a one-off."
A number of corporate teams, including one from HSBC Canary Wharf, voluteer in the clean-up.
Plastic bags are a particular problem for this stretch of river as they get weighed down by sand and caught in the bend. Usually made of the non-biodegradable polyethylene they can take between 450 and 1,000 years to break down.
Since 2001 Thames 21 volunteers have removed 330,000 bags from the river.
Alice said: "It is not that people on the Isle of Dogs throw a lot of bags into the river, it is just a natural process due to the bend.
"The first event was held here in 2001 and in 2006 we began a concerted effort to tackle the problem of aquatic litter on the foreshore.
"It is possible at this time of year because the tide is lower meaning the water goes out further and areas normally covered by water are accessible."
A Mexican hat and a coconut were among the items pulled from the mud on Friday morning but the teams have found an unusual bounty in the past.
Special project coordinators Ben Fenton said: "Volunteers have found wedding rings, messages in bottles and grenades in the past. I found a Saxon spear head and we once uncovered a book of naked Polaroid pictures of men.
"People often think that if they throw something in the river it is gone for good but once the tide goes out it can be revealed."
Ben also organises photography walks along the river and is responsible for the Thames 21 photographic competition. There is still time to enter - the theme is London's waterways and the deadline for submissions is March 26.
Images will be displayed at the National Maritime Museum in conjunction with the current Ansel Adams photographic exhibition.
See upcoming events you can take part in at thames21.org.uk