Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards celebrates the incredible plastic pollution activist Lizzie Carr.
Just a few months ago, we asked Stylist readers to vote for the woman they most believed deserved the title of Inspiration of the Year. The indomitable Lizzie Carr came out as the winner, and it’s easy to see why.
Shortly after she went through radiotherapy for thyroid cancer in 2013, Carr took up paddleboarding as a low-impact way of exercising. It was during her daily trips up and down Regent’s Canal that she became more aware of the city’s plastic pollution problem.
“I saw rubbish everywhere, birds’ nests were full of wrappers, straws and bags, and plastic bottles would tumble onto one end of my board and pop out the other,” she told Stylist.
“I was using the waterways as a place to restore my health, but they were in a worse condition than I was.”
Rather than ignore the issue, though, Carr decided to do something about it. She paddled 400 miles from Godalming to the Lake District, taking 3,000 photos over 22 days to show the extent of the rubbish.
Once this was done, Carr created the Plastic Patrol app where she uploaded all the images she had taken. Others started doing the same,and now the app has over 300,000 uploads from more than 80 countries.
“It felt surreal but invigorating that there was a community ready to help, and I was blown away on our first global clean-up day last September when thousands of people from 20 countries went out on the same day collecting litter and logging it on the app for a huge simultaneous data collection on plastic pollution,” she said.
That sounds like Inspiration of the Year stuff to us, quite frankly.
“I was really shocked to even be nominated for this award. And meeting the other two nominees [social enterprise founder Juliet Can and networking leader Kike Oniwinde] in this category was such a huge honour, ,” she tells Stylist, upon learning of her win. “The only reason I’m in any way remarkable is because of the people that have supported Plastic Patrol.
Carr adds: “We wouldn’t have the data or the reach that we have unless the volunteers had got involved. It started as a one-woman crusade and without everyone else around the world who is now a part of it, it would still be that.
“There’s still a long way to go, specifically with environmental issues, but over the last five years there’s been a huge shift in the way people have reacted to the work we do, but we need more of everyone helping each other.
“And if you’re in a position where you’re able to raise somebody else up, take advantage of that and make sure that everyone’s voices are heard.”
REMARKABLE WOMEN AWARDS 2020: FULL WINNERS LIST
Sharon Horgan: Woman of the Year
Fearne Cotton: The Hope & Grace award for Mental Health Advocate
Waad Al-Kateab: The Remarkable Strength Award
Jorja Smith: Musician of the Year
Samira Ahmed: The Glass Ceiling Award
Margaret Atwood: Icon of the Year
Sinead Burke: Change-Maker of the Year
Caroline Criado Perez: Equality Champion of the Year
Dina Asher-Smith: Sports Star of the Year
Adwoa Aboah: Mentor of the Year
Images: Chris Floyd
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Pictures: Chris Floyd