Beach Cleaning and Mental Health: Survey Results.

from Martin Dorey, founder of the #2minutebeachclean

“There is just no downside to making a positive difference to your environment.”

I have always found beach cleaning to be a very positive experience, despite it opening my eyes to the massive problem of plastic pollution. On one hand it makes me feel that I am making a positive difference and on the other hand it helps to strengthen my resolve. I see the state of the beach, the plastics washing up with every tide, and I feel inspired to carry on along the path that is the #2minutebeachclean.

I appreciate the outdoors and appreciate the time to think, away from the computer and the pressures of living in this society and time. During the lead up to my divorce I found beach cleaning to be a very powerful way of escaping, immersing myself in something positive and taking time out to calm down. Now, I go beach cleaning with my new partner, Lizzy, as it gives us time to talk, be together and share our ideals. But what about you?

“The sound of the sea washes my spirit clean”

We have long known that beach cleaning can have a positive effect on the people who participate, which is why we conducted a recent survey to get some stats to back up what we have been saying. We have got to know our family over the last five years and have heard many of their stories about illness, depression, anxiety and the positive effects of beach cleaning and we wanted to find out how many of you felt it was an important part of your wellbeing.

“It makes me leave the house for something positive.”

We asked 7 simple questions.

469 people took the survey.

27% of respondents took part in regular beach cleans.

The majority said they clean up in their own time with a #2minutebeachclean (70%), a #2minutelitterpick (42%) or #2minutestreetclean (25%). 27% said they take part in the occasional organised clean.

53% of those that responded said they experience or had experienced some kind of mental health problems, while 32% said they had other health issues.

Mental health issues and health problems didn’t deter many. 30% said that beach cleaning and clean up activities had a positive effect, while only 1.5% claimed that they stopped them from taking part. 11% of respondents said that their health issues stop them from taking part, but that they still do what they can.

20% of respondents said that their mental health and well being was better as a direct result of beach cleaning, while 33% said that beach cleaning helped them a lot with their mental health and well being.

When asked why their mental health and well being has improved due to beach cleaning (if they felt they benefited from it) 45 people skipped the question. Of those who answered the question 69% said it was because of getting out in the open air, 67% said it was because they felt good about keeping planet earth clean, 25% said it was because they met new people and 80% said that it made them feel positive.

Other responses to the question included the following (of the 49 comments in total):

“Because I have to focus on the beach, finding rubbish, which removes everything else going on in my mind for a while.”

“It makes me stop to take notice, which makes me feel present and stops worrying. It’s part of my exercise routine – personally I think it’s more satisfying than being in a gym! And I feel like I’m giving something, which makes me feel positive.”

“It actually makes me depressed to litter pick. It’s always in areas I’ve done before, yet more pond life keep throwing their crap out of windows. Just come back from a few days in Argyll and Bute. Beautiful part of the country. Lay-bys and road sides were disgusting.”

“Also – because I feel like I’m part of a family who care about reducing litter. Being a beach cleaner/ street cleaner feels like you’ve got a massive global (and local) family who feel the same as you.”

“All of the reasons above and the fact that cancer has made me realise I had little time left to try and leave the world a better place for my children.”

“Being outside. Moving. Bending. Walking. Fresh air and ions from the sea air would make anyone feel better. Litter picking is a positive action. It can generate feelings of frustration though.”

“Being part of the online community that goes with the #2minutebeachclean hashtag means it’s possible to be a part of something and feel involved without the pressure of face to face contact when that’s one pressure too many for a day, also the fact that the tide rolls in twice a day so there’s no pressure of a “set time” to have to leave the house/ get to the beach + the idea that’s reiterated across the @2min spectrum that 1 piece of plastic picked up made a difference – small, achievable goals.”

“If anything my beach cleaning activities make me feel more sad and depressed as I see how terrible humans have been to this planet, as well as an overwhelming hopelessness about how totally screwed we are.”

Thank you to all who took part.


One thought on “Beach Cleaning and Mental Health: Survey Results.

  1. Pingback: Beach cleaning and mental health – Colourful Coast

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