Friends of 2 Minute: Dom Ferris

This week I spoke with the enthusiastic Dom Ferris, former boss of Beach Cleans at SAS and now CEO of Trash Free Trails. Dom’s charity incorporates his two greatest loves; mountain biking and saving the world. 

Hey Dom, thanks for taking the time to chat to us! How was 2020 for you in a nutshell?

I’m not great at keeping things in a nutshell! January and February were really exciting because I made the commitment to go all in on Trash Free Trails. On February 25th we became a CIC, which is a big deal for me as a former feral animal! Then suddenly – lockdown.

At first it was a shock and I was worried because we weren’t completely set up. Plus initially we were all about gathering people together, so lockdown made this tough.

My first thought when lockdown hit, after my family and friends, was, ‘am I still going to be able to access nature?’ I assumed this question would be similar for a lot of people. This gave me a role to play as outside spaces are extremely valuable for people’s mental and physical health. TFT was just about to launch the Spring Trail Clean Tour and as a part of this we were hoping to gather 50 to 100 people across 10 different locations. Obviously there was no chance of this happening, so we changed our campaign to DIY Trail Clean Tours and came up with the strap-line, “we don’t have to be together to work together.” This idea got around the issue of crowds, however a few people voiced their concerns over picking up other people’s litter during a pandemic. 

That all sounds really promising, but how did you get around the issue of litter picking worries in a pandemic? 

Whilst out walking the dog during my lockdown exercise I had a revelation! The sun came through the trees and I rediscovered my ‘why’. I remembered why I was doing all of this, what these natural places do for me and what I owe them. I then also realised how I came to this ‘why’ – by slowing down.

From this, we developed the Selfless Isolation Project. We encouraged people to get involved, starting with the first step which was – nothing! We asked people to set out on their daily walk/ trail tour and simply notice their surroundings. By bringing your attention to the surrounding nature, you can get out of your busy brain and be fully aware of what’s happening around you. We also encouraged ‘forest bathing’. This leads to 3 more things; observing (paying attention to points of interest), knowing (involving mapping your home trails) and expedition planning (taking action to protect your local area). This campaign sparked loads of connections with ambassadors, people and partners. Off the back of this idea we’ve been able to plan the next 4 years worth of projects! 

You can find out more about the Selfless Isolation Project and Purposeful Adventure here – https://www.trashfreetrails.org/purposefuladventure 

Whoa! Big year for you then Dom! Tell us about your 2021 plans for Trash Free Trails.

We’ve put out our first ever Impact Report of what’s been achieved since we started in 2017. We have also just launched our 2021 Route Map, a beautifully illustrated infographic map which shows our projects for the year, using the OS grid system, showing which month the project is happening in and the strategic priority. We are also asking people to join our Trash Mob Community for the year ahead. 

We have awesome projects planned; mass participation trail cleans such as the Spring Trail Clean and the Autumn Litter Watch; a brand new education programme called the Trash Mob Academy; Plentiful Adventures which is happening this summer; expanding and updating our ambassador team, loads of stuff really! 

We’ve also been lucky enough to receive enough support that we’ve taken on our first full time employee, a project coordinator. 

We run a 2 Minutes of Positivity campaign which started at the beginning of lockdown. It promotes doing something small every day that makes you happy. Did you incorporate wellbeing into your charity because of the pandemic, or is it something you’ve always thought about?

I’ve always worked in the outdoors and known how important it is. A really pivotal moment was when I was running a beach clean over 10 years ago and I realised that people didn’t just come for the litter pick, but for the company and camaraderie. I also met an older man who was really shy, a bit awkward and didn’t seem to fit in. It was obvious he desperately wanted to get involved and engage but was struggling. He was the first at the beach clean, went the furthest, and left last. There was a moment when we were bent down together collecting micro-beads and I had a revelation that we’d found a positive thing in common; we loved doing something to make a positive difference. No matter what we suffered from mentally, we could share this similarity. 

In our line of conservation work if we try and distill the problem down to one word, it’s connection. Disconnection is driving the problem. Disconnection from selves, from environment and from community. If we can create more positive connection it can do nothing but good. 

I found my purpose in protecting the environment and I hope the work we do helps other people find this too. 

From what you’ve learnt over the past years, is there anything that you’d like to encourage people to do differently in 2021?

There’s a reason I called the charity Trash Free Trails and not Riders Against Rubbish. I find it a really useful exercise to think ‘what am I for?’ and not, ‘what am I against?’ That’s the starting point, and it transcends into this question; has shock, outrage, ill-will or shame ever solved anything? If you’re angry on social media about the amount of litter you’ve found, will that stop it from being there? No! Firstly, it definitely won’t, we know it in our hearts. Secondly, there is scientific evidence to prove that using shock, guilt or blame tactics is corrosive and won’t help what you’re trying to solve. So I’d encourage people to think, ‘what am I for?’ to bring about the change they are trying to make. 

One more thing! Remember to reward yourself and others for the efforts you are putting in. It’s incredible. If we don’t we might loose our ‘why’. 

If you want to get involved with Trash Free Trails you can check out the website by clicking here. Dom is also looking for volunteers to help out on his Spring Trail Clean in April, and would love to see as many people out litter picking on the trails as possible. 

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Introducing Ella Daish: Friend of 2 Minute

Welcome to the first article in the Friends of 2 Minute interview series! My name is Lottie and I am the Communications Coordinator here at The 2 Minute Foundation. We will be catching up with an inspirational campaigner every week, sharing their story, provoking conversation and hopefully sparking motivation for other eco-activists! 

This week I spoke with eco-warrior and period plastic fighter Ella Daish. Ella first started campaigning to end period plastic in 2018 and has taken on big names such as Tesco, Procter and Gamble and Boots. She is a true activist and we are proud to support Ella and call her our friend. Find out what she’s been up to recently by reading on… 

Ella Daish

1. Hey Ella, thanks for taking the time to chat to us! How was 2020 for you in a nutshell?

I think 2020 was a chaotic year for all of us. It had its ups and downs and I would be lying if I said it hadn’t been challenging. Despite the barriers of the pandemic, in 2020 the campaign resulted in some fantastic changes. Aldi and Superdrug removed plastic applicators from their products and other decision makers developed and launched their own eco-friendly ranges too.

I’m really proud of my work in Wales as well. They’ve listened to my calls for them to spend their period poverty funding sustainably. In 2020, three Welsh local authorities joined Caerphilly Council by committing to spending 100% of their funding on eco-friendly products. The Welsh Government has stipulated 50% of funding across Wales must be spent in this way!

2. Did you launch any campaigns in 2020 and what was the outcome?

The #EndPeriodPlastic campaign had a few different actions happening throughout the year. In September we focused on Tampax, calling on them to remove plastic applicators from their products. As part of this action, I wanted to create something that Tampax could not ignore, that would highlight the extent of the problem. I made a giant plastic tampon applicator. It stands at 6ft tall and is made of over 1,200 Tampax applicators collected from 15 different locations across the UK by brilliant campaign supporters, including some of the #2minutebeachclean family!

Unfortunately, the response from Tampax was disappointing but unsurprising. Manufacturers often like to put the ownership of the problem onto the consumer. However they have got the money and resources to change, and they must! This isn’t over and there will be more happening in the future.

3. Do you have any big plans for 2021? Tell us about your campaigns for the coming year.

In January, the UK Government abolished the VAT on menstrual products like tampons, pads and menstrual cups, which is fantastic. However they failed to include period pants which continue to be taxed at 20% because they classify them as a garment.

I’ve started a campaign with Ruby Raut, founder of Wuka Wear, calling for the UK Government to drop the tax on period pants. They must get behind this call and take action by removing the tax to help make sustainable options economically viable for all who menstruate, so we can stem the tide of unnecessary waste. You can read more about this campaign and how you can take action with us here.

4. What are you hoping to achieve in the new year?

It’s really hard to plan this year in the current climate as everything with the pandemic is so uncertain. However I will be continuing to hold companies accountable, challenging and calling out bad practices, and focusing on the steps that must be taken for a better future. 

5. Is there anything you’d like to encourage people to do differently this year? 

We often think that someone else will solve a problem, but I believe that nothing will ever change if we don’t address the issue and directly do something about it ourselves. That’s why this year I would urge anyone to raise their voice and take action for a cause they care about because we really can all make a difference.

I’d also encourage people to change the way they spend to match their ethics. If a brand you buy from is doing something wrong, whether it’s a fast fashion brand not paying their garment workers, or a global company not curbing their plastic output, boycott them and spend instead with companies that are doing it right. If doing the right thing isn’t their jam, seeing their profits going down will force them to act.


6. What did you learn from 2020?

The biggest thing I learnt in 2020 is the power of collaboration. Joining forces with individuals, groups and charities to raise our voices and collectively take action and raise awareness, drives change. 


7. You may have heard of our #2minutesofpositivity campaign – what small thing do you do each day to put a smile on your face?

Although it is longer than 2 minutes, in January I started carving out time each morning to do yoga and it has had such a positive impact on me, both mentally and physically. Before the pandemic, I, like many of us, was living at a thousand miles per hour every day. I didn’t take any time out and towards the end of last year I burnt out. Giving yourself permission each day to switch off and do something for no one else but you is really important.

To find out more about Ella and her campaign against period plastic you can check out her website by clicking here or follow her on Instagram here.

Next week I’ll be talking to the enthusiastic founder of Trash Free Trails, Dom Ferriss. 

Ella with The 2 Minute Foundation team

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Caring For Your Saplings

Our 2 Minute Regeneration campaign is well underway and it’s been amazing to see so many people planting, foraging and getting involved. We can’t wait to crowdsource the first 2 Minute Forest and get this planting party started! 

The concept is simple; it take’s just 2 minutes to sow a seed, but an entire family to grow a forest. That’s why we asked for your help in bringing this regeneration project to life.

Your saplings will hopefully have germinated over the winter months, before strengthening in the summer sunshine and becoming ready to plant out in our 2 Minute Forest at some point in the future. Below you’ll find a few general hints and tips for making sure your saplings grow happily, ensuring they’ll be ready for their new home in our forest.

1. Make sure your little saplings have light! Direct sunlight will be too harsh on their young leaves but a warm, bright environment is perfect for encouraging growth.

2. Keep them moist but not wet. It’s important to water your saplings without drowning them.

3. Did you know warmth speeds germination? 18 degrees is a good average for root growth. 

4. In the early stages, seeds provide their own nutrition, but once they reach about 3 – 4 inches they like to be fed about 1/2 inch of compost to help them on their way. 

5. When they are a little bigger it’s good to re-pot your seedlings to avoid pot-bound root systems. Switch them to larger containers with deeper fresh soil mix. (Check out The Conservation Volunteers https://www.tcv.org.uk for more info on what soil mix different types of trees like.)

6. When your plants seem strong enough it’s good to gently expose them to outdoor conditions. Pop them outside in a spot sheltered from the wind and in dappled sunlight for a few hours a day so they can harden up to the natural elements. You can acclimatise your plants to sunlight by placing them in sunnier locations for longer periods of time each day. 

7. As a general rule, once your plant is 40cm – 50cm in height it should be ready for planting out.

Hopefully this short guide will help you take care of your seedlings! We can’t wait to have our planting party with you all next year, and to get the saplings in the ground. If you’d like to support us and our 2 Minute Forest without growing, you can simply donate to The 2 Minute Foundation here.

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