In the past two years, trolleys, bicycles, safes and even fridges have been recovered from the Thames.
On a mission to clean up the river, Ralph Taylor and his team of volunteers, the Waterway Pickers, have just hauled away their 100th trolley.
The 48-year-old launched his campaign in 2021 after worrying about the dangers such litter could pose to people swimming or boating in the river.
Normally trolleys are transported to the junkyard or back to the supermarket.
But Ralph plans to honor the collection of three characters by turning them into a heron sculpture that will be returned to the water.
He left that decision to the volunteers, who helped achieve that goal.
The refuse collector from Staines, Surrey, said: “The idea of having a heron came about because it represents an abundance of food and clean waterways.”
“When we threw a party to celebrate the 100th shopping cart on Saturday, I ended up asking everyone what the shopping cart would be transformed into.
“It’s like a phoenix.” “Out of the trash comes something artistic and beautiful.”
The father couldn’t believe he’d managed to reach the milestone that had become a “buzz joke” over time.
“When I was 30, I definitely couldn’t imagine that we would make it to 100 knowing how much effort it takes to get just one,” added Ralph.
Pickers use grappling hooks, rope, and sometimes a winch to pull carts and other debris out of the water and sticky mud.
But Ralph uses the machines as a last resort, loving the camaraderie that comes with salvaging a wagon with sheer manpower.
He said, “There’s something beautiful and therapeutic about working manually and not using machines.”
“Using the machine eliminates the interaction between people.” “If we do it by hand, we automatically come together and achieve something great as a team.”
Contact our news team by emailing us at email@example.com.
For more stories like this, Check out our news page.