Martin here, founder of The Beach Clean Network and the #2minutebeachclean. Lately I have also become the CEO of The 2 Minute Foundation, the next incarnation of the organisation I started with Tab all those years ago. It’s an honour to still be a part of it.
But that’s enough of the introductions.
I’m going to get straight down to it. Just like everyone else, I am devastated by the Coronavirus.
Having just announced our charity status, we felt like we were on a roll in 2020. It was to be our year. The ‘first year’ after many years of struggling. We were named as the CBI South West’s charity of the year. We had just launched our Guardian Angel Scheme in Cornwall and Devon with Fjallraven and were doing similar in London with Love, Beauty, Planet. We were about to open a shop to raise funds for our campaign work. The 2 Minute Shop “from Trash to Treasure” was to be on Crooklets Beach in Bude, the place where the #2minutebeachclean hashtag began in 2013. We have been donated end of line stock from our supporters Surfdome (the kind of wearable, perfectly serviceable stuff that other companies send to landfill) and would have been selling that, along with original beach litter artworks from our talented family, merchandise, plastic free products and books. We were in talks with Bude Town Council to take over an empty building on Crooklets Beach to make into our office, an information centre, an eco-hub and a place from which we could lend beach toys and litter pickers.
All that now is on hold. Half of our amazing team have been furloughed. I miss them. The rest of us are working from home. We have asked our Guardians to remove litter pickers and bags from all of our 800 beach cleaning stations around the UK and Ireland, and to remove the stations altogether where possible. Our team of fantastic Guardian Angels are on hold, waiting for whatever happens next.
But really, it’s ok.
We’ll get through this. What matters now, more than ever, is that our family – that’s you – stays safe and well. However we feel about the mountain of plastic litter that enters the oceans every year, our family’s welfare is more important right now. That means staying home unless doing your ‘state sanctioned’ exercise. If you want to pick up litter as part of it, and can do it safely, then we thank you. But if there’s any risk to you, you can’t wash your hands afterwards or you worry where it’s come from, please don’t. We need you fit and well to fight another day.
However, I do understand how important doing small acts of good can be for the soul. Focussing on litter, picking it up and leaving somewhere nicer than it was when you got there can be excellent therapy. It can allow you to be present, to take a break from negative thoughts or emotions and do something positive. If you’re having to isolate, can’t get to a beach or park or are too afraid to go out, this must be really difficult. So if you need help, talk to us. If you’re struggling, get in touch. If you need to take 2 minutes for yourself, take it. And if you’ve got 2 minutes to spare, give it to someone who might need it. It might be as simple as making a positive comment on someone’s picture on Instagram. Every bit matters. Starting a conversation, as long as it’s heathy and positive, can do more good than you might imagine.
In recent weeks we’ve been posting videos of our #2minutesofpositivity online. If you’ve yet to see them, take a look at the hashtag on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. They are snippets of positivity from our family that they wanted to share. Recently we’ve had brilliant stuff from all over the place. World Surf League commentator and big wave surfer Peter Mel sent us a video from California. Laura from Springwatch sent us a video from her greenhouse and Lauren Eyles from the Marine Conversation Society sent us a video from the Gower. We’ve had badgers and nettle soup, songs from Nicky (and me) and even Jaik’s nan and grandad.
I hope, if you need a little boost, that watching them may help.
From my own personal point of view, I’ve found it hard not to be scared and afraid of what the future will be like. I am concerned for my own health and for my family. My mother is in Ireland, my kids just about to leave isolation after 2 weeks at home with their mum. I’m still working but trying to spend some of the day looking after myself. Stretching has helped me to listen to my body and has helped me to feel better while I’ve been learning some basic yoga. I’ve also been enjoying the silence, the chirping of the birds, the clear skies and the coming of spring. I’m lucky: I have a garden and live in Cornwall.
I am learning to see the positive in everything.
After last night’s rain it feels as if nature is about to burst. It’s had some time off from us and is ready to explode with spring time. We’ve seen goats in Llandudno and, if social media is to be believed, a clearing of smog over parts of China. We’ve certainly been producing fewer emissions because we’ve been burning less fossil fuel. We’ve been buying less too. Our cars stand on our driveways or in the street unused. The roads are silent. We have time to think. We have time to appreciate the little things in our lives: nature, birdsong, growing veg, the faces of those we love, the daily walk, cycling, open spaces, clear skies, the sun on our faces, picking up the phone to old friends, video conferencing distant family, new blossom, new life in our window boxes, listening, watching, loving and learning.
That’s what life is about.
Maybe this proves we don’t need so much to be happy. We don’t need to go so far. We don’t need to drive so much. We can live without flying so often. We can work from home. We can shop local. We can give 2 minutes to our neighbours. We might find out that fashion, in times like this, is pointless, and shopping doesn’t make us happy. We might learn that taking the time to cook from scratch can be both rewarding, healthy and fun. And cheaper too. We can make less mess. We can find the time to clear up a bit more. We can slow down a little.
How do you feel about that?
Personally, while I am devastated that we can’t continue much of what we started at the 2 Minute Foundation, for the time being, I hope that this will be just a blip and that things will change for the better. While it might be tough to adjust to a brave new world, where we can’t just have it all, everything you do from now on matters.
Every 2 minutes makes a difference, whatever that 2 minutes means.
Be well. Think well.
And if you need 2 minutes, just take it.
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