Are your blue jeans destroying the river? | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Are your blue jeans destroying the river? Photo: RiverBlue

Why Mark Angelo, the world’s most well-traveled paddler, thinks so


“Many of the rivers of the world are in a state of crisis,” says Mark Angelo. The British Columbian is an internationally celebrated river conservationist, writer, speaker and paddler, and key player in new documentary RiverBlue’s production.

The documentary explores the damage of the textile and tannery industry, now estimated to be responsible 20% of industrial freshwater waste. “It’s way more than we were expecting and it’s flown pretty much under the radar and been underreported,” says Angelo.

The documentary takes special note of blue jeans—over 450 million pairs of jeans are sold in the US each year, with over 70% of denim fabric production taking place in China, Indonesia and other Asian markets. Most of those factories discharge the toxic wastewater directly into rivers, spreading contamination to plants, animals and people wherever it flows.  “River advocates appreciate how everything is interconnected,” says Angelo.

As an avid kayaker, canoeist and rafter, Angelo has traveled to almost 1,000 rivers spanning 100 countries. Within the documentary he revisits an Indonesian river where it was once possible to make a living fishing. Now fishermen sift through the massive amount of debris in the water, collecting scraps to take in for recycling.

Angelo saw a similar story along the Pearl River in China—just a few decades ago, fishermen could make a living, now many of the same fishermen sift through the mud in search of worms to sell as bait for other areas that still have fish to catch. At times, film crew members had to don protective clothing and gas masks to traverse the waterways.

“I’m fearful of what lies ahead, clean water and healthy rivers becoming increasing scarce,” says Angelo. “Already, a billion people don’t have access to clean water.”

Producer Roger Williams is hoping the documentary inspires change. “RiverBlue brings the issue to the consumers," he says, adding that he hope it inspires consumer consciousness for buying textiles and leather goods in the same way that consumers have begun to change the way they think about buying food.

“Our waterways are in a state of crisis. As paddlers, we know rivers have immense cultural, natural and recreational values. They’re lifelines in the truest sense,” says Angelo.

Visit RiverBlue online here. You can also follow their Twitter and Facebook updates, and participate in a contest to win cash.  




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