Can two minutes really make a difference?
How the #2minutebeachclean started and the impact of Arctic Fox Initiative.Sustainability | 5 Minutes read
The Beach Clean network really started in 2013 after storm Hercules left the British coastline strewn with plastic waste washed up from the sea. Martin Dorey, the founder of the #2minutebeachclean project, discovered his local Crook lets beach knee-deep in plastic bottles and other litter. As he says, “I remember walking away and being so angry that the beach was in such a state” it was at this point that he “vowed to do something about it” and the Beach Clean network was created.
Martin decided to use the internet to try and inspire other people to take part in their own #2minutebeachclean. Every day after the storms he kept coming back to the beach and posting images to instagram with the hashtag #2minutebeachclean and suddenly other people started joining in. The first beach clean stations - which are signs accompanied by an explanation of the concept and litter pickers, plus trash bags - were placed across beaches in Cornwall in 2014 by the organisation. Now there are over 800 stations across the UK and Ireland. For Martin, an avid surfer, the ocean is his playground but the movement has not stopped at the beaches. The #2minute campaigns have expanded to litter picks, street cleans, parks or other areas where plastic litter can be found.
Why two minutes?
Why not a five minute beach clean? Why not ten? Why not any other amount of time? As Martin explains, “asking someone for two minutes of their time is really shorthand for asking them for nothing. ” The idea is that everyone has two minutes to spare, and that by labelling a beach clean as taking only two minutes of your time it removes that barrier for people to take part. Suddenly, the movement started to catch on. Mentions across social media sky rocketed. On Instagram there are 125,000 posts of people doing two minute beach cleans. In total those two minutes add up to 250,000 minutes of beach clean time - before you know it that is weeks worth of beach cleaning. Martin estimates the movement at helping to remove 250 tons of litter from beaches around the world. “If litter collected from each two minute beach clean weighs just 1-2 kilograms that is 250 tons of litter removed from beaches around the world with people only doing two minutes at a time.” All of this from an organisation that started with one surfer wanting to clean his local beach in Cornwall. As Martin says “It’s extraordinary. Can you change the world in two minutes? Yes, you can. When you start to addup the two minutes it can make a real difference.”
What happens after the beach clean up?
But the goal of the Beach Clean network is not just to remove litter from beaches, but to make people think about their own plastic usage and footprint on the planet. Martin explains, “we want people to pick up two minutes worth of plastic from their local beach and then we want them to ask themselves: why is this plastic there? ” Plastic is a huge problem in our oceans today, by 2050 it is estimated that there will be more fish than plastic by weight in the sea. Plastic does not biodegrade, and the problem of micro plastics polluting oceans and marine life is a serious threat. As Martin says, “we want to change the way that people visit beach.” A two minute beach clean up should just be part of a surf trip to the beach or walking your dog along the beach in the morning. The goals for the organisation are to see a world without plastic waste or pollution and to continuously inspire and enable people to change the way they react with outdoor spaces. It’s about long term behavioural change to make people think about their local beaches and also about their own consumption. The movement does not stop in Cornwall, the Beach Clean network have expanded throughout the UK and Ireland and are looking even further afield to continue their efforts. Click here to find out more about the Beach Clean network and both current and future #2minute campaigns.
The Arctic Fox Initiative
In 2019, the Arctic Fox Initiative gave funds to three non-profits across the globe - all with the goal to protect nature. The Beach Clean network applied to the fund for a grant to enable a small scale, local trial of the ‘Guardian Angel scheme’. This is a project where teams of volunteers (called Guardian Angels) are placed on beaches across the UK and work with beach visitors to introduce them to the beach clean stations and the idea of getting involved in a two minute beach clean up every time they visit the beach. Fjällräven’s Arctic Fox Initiative team decided to support the organisation in bringing a trial of Guardian Angel volunteer teams and more beach clean stations to the whole South West of the UK for one year.
The Beach Clean network, and the #2minutebeachclean project, is a real testament to why every little effort made for the environment does matter. Two minutes might be shorthand for nothing, but the effect on the environment and the passion behind the project is far from that. Next time you visit the beach, do your own #2minutebeachclean and don’t forget to use the hashtag on social media. In the meantime check out the Arctic Fox Initiative as applications, for non-profits to apply for funding for their own project to protect the environment, are currently open. For more information or to apply to the Arctic Fox Initiative click here.
An introduction to the Arctic Fox Initiative
An introduction to the Arctic Fox Initiative, the 2019 winners and the latest on applications for 2020.
First winner of the Arctic Fox Initiative: The Beach Clean Network Ltd
The first grant winner of the Arctic Fox Initiative in 2019 was The Beach Clean Network Ltd.