Paddling the Nation's Most Toxic Waterways

“There is no more away, even in a city like New York our waterways are filled with plastics." 

Sam Bencheghib



Equipped with a pair of stand up paddle boards and a sense of purpose, filmmaking brothers Gary and Sam Bencheghib floated up and down two of America's most toxic waterways to bring awareness to the global pollution issues that impact us all. The French duo paddled New York’s Newtown Creek and Gowanus Canal in December 2017 to highlight the reality of pollution and demonstrate the importance of acting now to keep local environments clean and healthy. By documenting the state of both waterways and interviewing experts in an eight-part video series, Gary and Sam hope to bring local context to a global problem and inspire more action to fix it. 

The series, entitled #BroCleanBKLN, premiered via their media platform “Make a Change World”. Watch episode 1: 



Gary and Sam started their journey at Newtown Creek just under the Grand Street bridge and paddled outwards into the East River. Newtown Creek, located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is one the oldest continuous industrial areas in the United States and the site of one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history, a culmination of decades of oil leakage. In 2010, the creek was named a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Gowanus Canal, also a Superfund site, has been referred to as “one of the most contaminated places in America,” poisoned with industrial pollutants and pumped full of raw sewage. The EPA’s clean up is still in preliminary stages and the water remains highly polluted with old tires, car frames and discarded junk. Upon noticing accumulations of floating trash, in addition to some offensively putrid smells, the brothers turned their exploratory paddle adventure into a cleanup expedition.



“In increasingly uncertain times for our environment, there has never been a more important time than now to take action to clean up and restore our waterways. If we can start by showing a good example here in New York, the world will follow.”

Gary Bencheghib


About the Bencheghib brothers

Parley collaborators Gary and Sam Bencheghib were born in Paris, France but grew up in Bali, Indonesia, where they spent most of their teenage years. They founded with their older sister, Kelly, “Make a Change World,” a media outlet to shares stories of change-makers from around the world via 1-3 minutes microdocs. Over summer 2017, the Bencheghib brothers kayaked down one of the world’s most polluted rivers, the Citarum river, located in West Java in Indonesia on two plastic bottle kayaks. Their two-week journey brought global attention to the environmental disaster, reaching the Indonesian government, who responded with an emergency plan to clean up the river.


Learn more about Make a Change World

Watch BroCleanBKLN episode 2 || @parleyxxx