Published on July 6th, 2022 | by Paddleworld
GreenKayak is an environmental NGO that engages volunteers in the fight against environmental pollution by kayaking.
They offer everyone the opportunity to hop on a GreenKayak and paddle for free with two simple conditions:
- Spend your time on the water collecting trash.
- Share the experience on your social media using #GreenKayak.
Since 2017, tens of thousands of people have paddled the stable two-seater GreenKayaks sitting on the roof in harbors, rivers and lakes in five European countries, collecting more than 60 tons of waste. Think of the size and weight of a plastic bag, then imagine the pile of waste collected – it’s a veritable mountain of waste!
We believe that green kayaking opens people’s eyes to the waste in the water and that people become more careful about handling plastics and other waste in their daily lives.
That’s why it’s so important for us to build a global network of GreenKayaks and give as many people as possible a hands-on experience paddling for the oceans. Together we can make a difference!
They are committed to engaging people at eye level, connecting them across generations and making them feel like they are in the same boat, tied to a good cause. Littering is an issue that affects us all and it is our shared responsibility to protect our oceans.
We know that GreenKayak is not the solution that will save the oceans from plastic pollution. However, GreenKayak is an amazing and very effective way to engage citizens in local action, connect them to the water, and start a dialogue about what we all need to do to fight plastic pollution in the aquatic environment.
Collaboration is the key to change. They collaborate with other NGOs, businesses and share their knowledge of grassroots engagement with institutions like the European Environment Agency to increase the impact of our efforts.
Join the fight and #Paddlefortheoceans.
They started collecting trash floating in Copenhagen’s waters during private tours. Tobias, a professional sea kayaking instructor, paddled around the canals with his groups and started collecting plastics and other trash. He quickly noticed that the next day, the trash was still in the same places. This was a problem that needed to be addressed, and everyone needed to be involved. That’s when the first free GreenKayak was launched in Copenhagen in April 2017 (named Miljøkajakken at the time). The offer was well received and pre-booked months in advance.
In the first two seasons, about 3,000 volunteers collected 10 tons of mostly plastic waste from Copenhagen’s canals and various beach cleanups. We realized that it was possible to do something beyond the water environment of the Danish capital. Many waters in Europe and the world are polluted and the Danes saw this as a fun way to help clean them up. That’s when we realized that we could make a difference on a global scale by working with local communities in other cities and countries.
Oke, a business school graduate with startup experience, joined us in late 2018 and we rebranded from Miljøkajakken to GreenKayak. This is where we started our efforts to become a global movement for good. The hard work quickly paid off and we have grown rapidly since then. We have expanded our operations from Denmark to four other European countries, growing our fleet from 3 to 58 GreenKayaks. We managed to activate more than 22,000 locals and tourists from around the world in the fight against ocean pollution in 2019. In the same year, we won the Svend Auken environmental award.
In 2020, we expanded to other cities and became a UNESCO green citizen project. A total of 17868 kg of waste was collected that year alone with the help of 12047 volunteers.
By 2021, they have grown to a total fleet of 73 GreenKayaks placed throughout Europe. The European Environment Agency mentioned us in their report on plastics in Europe’s environment. The season has been the most successful so far with 18.5 tons of waste collected and over 12.4 thousand people involved in the fight against ocean pollution.
This year we have placed kayaks in our existing countries and expanded to the other side of the world. From now on, you can also book a time on the water in Tokyo to clean up the local waters of the Japanese capital.
They are now in several cities in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Japan. They also offer group tours, excursions, events and youth education – in Copenhagen, Hamburg and Berlin.