National Schools’ Regatta promotes positive action to help the environment

National Schools Regatta this year wanted to reduce the environmental impact of the regatta. Here’s how they did it


Recycling at the 2018 National Schools Regatta (c) ADEC Innovations

The National Schools’ Regatta  (NSR) committee decided that 2018 would be the year to make positive change and try to reduce the environmental impact of the largest rowing event for Juniors in the UK.

While concerns about the sustainability of the sport are shared by many in the rowing community, the NSR is uniquely positioned to inspire 5,000 young rowers and the 350 schools and clubs they represent.  The aim was to be the first single-use plastic bottle-free sports event in the country.

Main sponsor, Charles Stanley, provided static tanks of fresh drinking water and handed out reusable, aluminium water bottles.  All participants, supporters and suppliers were asked to support the new environmentally-friendly initiatives which were communicated by email and via the website and widely promoted on social media under the hashtag #pushingforacleansweep

For the first time, there was provision for mixed recycling across the site and specially made bins aimed to attract attention and act as visual reminders to ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’.

The campaign was embraced enthusiastically; interest and concern far outstripped our hopes and expectations, greatly helped by Sir David Attenborough and Blue Planet 2 putting the issue firmly on the public agenda.  Initial analysis suggests that total waste generated over the three-day event was reduced by approximately one third from 2017 and three, builders-sized skips of rubbish collected for recycling, instead of ending up incinerated or in land fill.

With any new initiative there is a lot to learn.  We learned that we had, happily, completely underestimated the positive strength of feeling and commitment shown by the NSR community.  We thank everyone who made such a fantastic effort and played an active part in reducing waste, saying no to single use plastic and recycling responsibly.  We hope to build on the successes this year to create lasting change.

For rowers and clubs keen to also take an active role in fighting against waste, here’s some suggestions:

  • Plan hydration and nutrition for events: take re-fillable bottles and food in re-usable containers and don’t forget to take home rubbish and recycle responsibly, like fans of Japan and Senegal at the Football World Cup
  • Ask event organisers about their water and waste provision to raise awareness of demand


Share your stories with us on how you and your club are helping the environment by tagging us in on social media and using the hashtag #YourStories. You can also submit your stories online here