Photo by Jacob Kaptein for National Geographic

De Grachtwacht

What beautiful canals we have in Leiden! With 'De Grachtwacht' (translated: The Canalwatch) we are working on plastic-free canals and make people aware of the urban nature in and around the canal. With the Plastic Spotter canoe fleet, we organise weekly clean-ups and conduct real scientific research into plastic pollution. Not only do we clean the city, we also analyse where this waste comes from in order to turn off the tap. We exhibit our most exciting finds in the windows of the bridge keeper's house on the Marebrug in Leiden. Here, right above the canal, we coordinate the clean-up actions, welcome our volunteers and process the material from the clean-ups together. Our team is more than 500 volunteers strong! Subscribe to our newsletter and keep an eye on this website for more information about our exhibitions, research and other news.

Support our work

The clean-ups, the research and our exhibitions are entirely dependent on funds and donations. Donate here to help us continue our work. Every donation is welcome. Enjoy the clean canals!


News News

Borrel nieuwe ligplaats met enkele vrijwilligers
14 May 2023

Finally own berth and new research boat for clean-up canoe fleet!

The plastic spotter canoe fleet finally has its own official mooring and this was inaugurated for the first time on Sunday, May 7! With six dark green clean-up canoes and a research boat, the organization De Grachtwacht collects together with volunteers every Sunday garbage from the canal and does research on the waste.

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Liselotte en Auke Florian 27 april Koningsdag speelgoed uit de gracht
24 April 2023

Kingsday canal sale

From inflatable crocodiles and parrots to nice toys and glasses, we find some great things during our weekly clean-up. Also this year we want to give these canal finds a second life! Visit us during Kingsday and get your own special find from the canal, between 10 AM and 5 PM.

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Foto voor homepage grachtwacht expo AZL
10 December 2022

Exhibition 'Operation garbagedump'

From surgical scissors and urinary tubes to pharmacy bottles, X-ray sheets and uranium glass. Accidently, one of our volunteers stumbled upon a 100-year-old dump of hospital waste, in the Zijl River, near Leiden.

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Events Events

Schermafbeelding 2022 12 10 om 21 26 26

10 December - 1 September 2023 Expo

Operation garbage dump

Screenshot 2023 05 14 at 13 28 57

23 - 23 May 2023 Varia

Light market Bonaventura college


12 September - 31 December 2024 Clean up

Weekly clean-up

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