#SustainableSaturdays – Starting a Movement

You rolled up your sleeves. And we love you for it.

(but don’t stop there)

Good week? We’ve had beautiful offshores here in Cornwall, with flat seas for the first time in months. It has meant that the onslaught of marine litter landing on the beach has slowed a little. Of course, there are still things to pick up on your #2minutebeachclean, but you may have to look a little harder to find them. Even so, every little bit matters.

This gives us time to reflect on where we’re at before the next set of onshores bring more.

We’ve come a long way, baby. Every share and retweet of our films and blogs help to make our campaign stronger. So please, if you can, do the same with this one – it does matter.

I see people picking up each and every day and attending beach cleans at the weekends – both on the beach here in Bude and on social media. The number of posts to Instagram grows all the time. Two and a half years ago I would have been stoked to see one new #2minutebeachclean tagged picture pop up on Instagram each day. Now it’s rising all the time. Some days – Sundays particularly – there may be twenty or thirty. I took a look last week and noted the places they were coming from (in the order in which they landed): Lofoten Islands (Norway), Waimanalo Beach (Hawaii), John Lloyd State Park (Florida), Whitsand Bay, Cape Canaveral Beach, Cyprus, Trent Bridge, Bantry, Lake Tahoe, Bay of Fundy, Akatau (Caspian Sea), Shetland, West Wales and Bude. So there’s no doubt we are becoming a truly global family.

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That is amazing. Everyone who ever stopped to pick up litter is amazing, whether at an organised beach clean, on your own quietly or in the name of the #2minutebeachclean. When you stopped to pick up that plastic bottle that was in your path as you walked back up the beach from your last surf you made an important gesture – it’s a decision to make sure your impact on our planet is positive. And even though it might only have been one bottle, it still matters. Give yourself a big high five, but don’t stop there.

The #2minutebeachclean has always been about filling in the gaps between organised cleans. We never wanted to replace them. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. We hoped that we might reach a new audience and inspire them to join campaign groups or join in with the next organised clean. We hoped that we might give them an easy way to get started, to ease them into their journey. After all, how hard is it to pick up a bottle off the beach or take 2 minutes to pick up litter? It isn’t. But we are often blind to it because it’s too painful to look. We are in denial that there’s an issue. And anyway, not everyone has a couple of hours to go to beach cleans. People have lives to get on with. What we wanted to do was get people picking up on the go, when they were at the beach, in their own time, with no need for grabbers, paperwork, insurance. You just do it.

Anyway, when you watch the film above you’ll see a few of the numbers. They are big, but they could still be much bigger. So how about you help us double or triple them by this time next year? That would be great because it means more people are picking up, joining beach cleans and, basically, getting it.

This year is important for the #2minutebeachclean because we’ll see new campaigns launched around the globe. We are also looking for partners to take our idea to their countries. In Israel, for example, the Blue Flag operator EcoOcean  (these are the people who administer the Blue Flag clean beach awards) are launching the campaign during the Passover holiday in Tel Aviv. They have translated the tag into Hebrew and are getting a well know Israeli singer to write a #2minutebeachclean song (no, really) for the launch. The National Parks Service are working with EcoOcean to make it a big, national event. Without your images being posted to Instagram this would never have happened.

In Puerto Rico, the Blue Flag operator there, OPAS Puerto Rico have been using the #2minutebeachclean (#2minutosporlaplaya) for a while. They are launching a new campaign in May this year in time for the summer season. Last year they were on the verge of getting messages up on all cash point screens in the country to say “Have you done your #2minutebeachclean” but it was pulled at the last minute. I would have loved to have seen that!!! Even so, Puerto Rico!!!!!

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Here in northern Europe, we have seen fantastic take-up. In Ireland, An Taisce, the equivalent of our National Trust, has been running a #2minutebeachclean campaign for a couple of years. They have 20 of our beach clean stations and have just ordered another 120 more. This is great news because of the results of our trial in Bude, which was sponsored by BeachCare and Surfdome. After a year of it being on the beach, we looked at the stats of the local beach clean group’s monthly surveys. They showed a 61% drop in litter picked up compared to the year before. So if we can make the same difference on 140 beaches in Ireland (and 40 that will have our signs in England and Wales by June) then we are starting to make a difference.

The #2minutebeachclean is about getting litter off the beaches and inspiring people to pick up as part of their daily lives, so we are super stoked to see other campaigns that have been inspired by ours. Keep Scotland Beautiful launched the #2minutecleanup at Holyrood House last year and were kind enough to link to us. In Ireland, An Taisce launched the #2minutestreetclean with our blessing too and we are massively in support of it – because collaboration is the only way we’ll get this thing done.

In May, we’ll be launching the #2minutelitterpick with Dartmoor National Park Authority with 6 clean up stations dotted around the park at litter hotspots. It’s a new departure for us – we’re going inland – and will mean a lot more work. But if it makes people think twice about what they are doing then we are happy. One less piece of litter is a nicer world.

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So, again with my theme of ‘we’re all in it together’, here’s my call to arms: join us. There are no paperwork or membership fees (save it to join a conservation group like the MCS) and nowhere to sign (although we’d love it if you joined our mailing list HERE). And as we saw last week, beach cleaning can be a fun, healthy, social activity. If you prefer it can also be a solo mission to far flung shores. It doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you keep on doing what you are doing. Pick up on your walk or day out at the beach. Post your pictures and help to inspire others. Carry on as you are. Without you, none of this good stuff would have happened. You’re part of it.

And I fricken love you for it.


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