During the past year of on and off lockdown one issue has consistently come up as more people have been out and about exploring their local area rather than heading into shopping centres and pubs – litter.

In Ayrshire there is even a clean-up campaign that’s aiming to remove one million pieces of rubbish from the streets by the end of the year.

But what if it’s not on the street, what if discarded garbage ends up in our waterways?

Well, Rubbish Paddlers have the answer. Charlotte and Neil have been taking to the water aboard a paddle board to collect what litter they can.

River Irvine.

River Irvine.

The pair were sailing down the River Irvine at the weekend and they recovered some signage, a traffic cone, a kids’ tractor, some footballs, and a number of plastic containers and wrapping.

Not only are they clearing the rivers and coasts of rubbish, but they’re also upcycling what they find and have so far repaired a sunken balance bike and even made a planter out of a discarded beer barrel both of which they recovered from the River Doon.

The couple say that they’re aware they might not be able to clear it all on their own, but they’re hopeful that by doing their bit, it will encourage others to do the same and help raise awareness.

Charlotte said: “It started off as something we’d just do as a hobby and then I thought that, as a hobby, there’s only so much we can do, and I think there would be more of an impact if we shared it on social media and raising awareness is one of our main goals.

“There’s a lot of people who have been enjoying the outdoors a lot during the lockdown and it’s been a real help for a lot of people’s mental health and we thought it would be good to give back to these environments because they are beautiful here.”

Neil works at Dolphin House, an outdoor education centre on the coast near Culzean Castle. He’s hopeful the children he teaches will similarly be inspired to care about their environment.

And he’s even got hopes the activity will catch on around the globe and that him and Charlotte might get a chance to paddle down some European waterways.

He said: “It’s in its infancy at the moment, but it would be great if we could expand it.

“It’s difficult, it’s an incredible challenge to try and

access some of the litter, but to do it and to do it safely, it makes it more interesting.

“And we’ve found some mental stuff, but the positive thing about it is the creative use of it, how to reuse what it is that we find.”

Follow Charlotte and Neil at Rubbish Paddlers on Facebook to keep up to date with their efforts on the waters around Ayrshire.