Rivers

25th February 2021

Rise Up for Rivers

Our fresh water systems - rivers, canals, tributaries, and lakes - play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem.

They are home to diverse species, and a source of food and drinking water for many more (including us!).

They are also important in helping us manage the impacts of climate change as they store and hold water, making us more resilient to flood and drought.

But our rivers are in a poor state.

And industrial food production is one of the most significant causes of water pollution.

Farmers apply chemical fertilisers, pesticides (herbicides to kill weeds and insecticides to kill insects), slurry and manure to the land. These end up in our rivers because they're easily washed off fields by rain or blown off with loose topsoil, and can leach through ground water. Milk spills from dairies can also end up in our water systems.

As a result there are unacceptable levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in our rivers. This causes some plants and algae to grow excessively, taking oxygen out of the water as it decomposes in a process called eutrophication. Wildlife is killed as a result of this oxygen depletion.

Groundwater quality, a vital source of drinking water, is also often polluted with nitrates, mainly from agriculture. And because nitrates are soluble they can't be easily removed from the water, putting pressure on water companies.

And where polluted river water enters coastal ecosystems, it creates dead zones. There are already more than 400 ocean dead zones, totalling more than 245,000 km2 – an area greater than the UK.

We can change this.

Our rivers are dynamic and have a remarkable ability to recover. By cleaning and restoring our rivers, and preventing further pollution, we can support their recovery. 

Reducing food waste and therefore reducing demand for food (over)production is a simple, effective change we can make.

By supporting farming practices that use less chemicals, like organic or agroecological farming, we can help river systems to regenerate and protect the services they provide.

It's Time to Rise Up

Our Rise Up campaign is using a series of limited-edition beers brewed with fellow B Corps to highlight different elements of the ecological crisis.

We're telling the story of rivers with our Baker's Witbier (learn about previous topics on our blog: forests and oceans).

Wheat is a global commodity, the 2nd most produced grain in the world (with most grains fed to animals rather than being used for bakery products as you might expect). Chemicals are routinely sprayed to destroy pests, kill weeds and improve yields, and so wheat fields are a major contributor to water pollution.

Organic wheat, and other organic grains, are more expensive. There is also less available to purchase which can present supply chain challenges (thank you Stroud Brewery for helping us to source the organic malt for our Baker's Witbier!). This needs to change to help us better support natural ecosystems.

Baker's Witbier

This beer is brewed with surplus organic loaves from Hobbs House Bakery - Real Bread baked without additives - and organic British wheat, malted barley and oats.

By supporting businesses that operate for the benefit of people and the planet, including certified B Corps such as Toast and Hobbs House, you can help to change the food system, and change the world.

 

Want to learn more about our rivers?

Watch: Apocalypse Cow (George Monbiot), Upstream (Rob Petit & Robert Macfarlane)
Listen: BBC Radio 4: Costing the Earth - Dry Me a River
Read: Waterlog (Roger Deakin), The Pull of the River (Matt Gaw) * Shop at Bookshop.org (a Certified B Corp) *
Experience: Wild Swimming (Countryfile)

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We are working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, including SDG 6 for clean water. 

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