KEIGHLEY people are being urged to tackle the global plastics crisis by carrying out short litter-picks during their walks alongside local waterways.

The Canal & River Trust believes such everyday efforts by thousands of people across the country will help stop half a million pieces of plastic reaching the ocean. The charity’s Plastics Challenge will build on work by local volunteers to clean the banks of the Rivers Aire and Worth and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Keighley Big Local has for the past couple of years worked with community groups to carry out regular clean-ups, including its innovative One Hour Tidy anti-litter blitzes. Alison McLean from Plastic Free Keighley and Sue Patchett from the Riddlesden Toad Patrol and River Worth Friends have cleared rubbish along the canal towpath.

Just before the lockdown, Big Local began a project to “introduce” young people to the canal with a view to developing an environmental project with the Canal & River Trust, Keighley College and Keighley Youth Service. Big Local also stimulated interest in the waterways by recruiting local residents for the “Desmond Family Canoe Trail”.

Big Local coordinator Shaun O’Hare said: “A lot of the potential to deliver the Big Local Plan comes from the river and canal corridors within our area, through enhancing biodiversity and promoting leisure learning, sport and green routes. All of these maximise residents’ well-being.”

The Canal & River Trust launched the Plastics Challenge this month to tackle a growth in litter in and around waterways as a result of more people going for walks during the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with a suspension of work by volunteers to clear litter.

In the 12 months before lockdown began, volunteers had spent more than 10,000 hours a month on clean-ups, reducing the amount of litter and plastic by 30%. Visit for information on how to join the Plastics Challenge.