The hidden truth behind hand sanitiser

Before March this year (pre Covid-19), hand sanitiser was not even on my radar. To be honest, I hated the stuff. Bringing up two kids without it was, in fact quite easy. We just used the trusty old sink. 

Now, in the current climate, I am forced to use this stuff when I go out every day. When I walk through the school gates, before I walk into a shop and when I get back into my car from the supermarket. The sticky residue not only reeks, but it stings my hands. I know I’m not alone. But, it’s safe, right? Unfortunately not. 

During lockdown, one of my tasks was to look at hand sanitisers for our beach cleaning and litter picking stations. We wanted to ensure that when our stations were put back out again, it would be safe to handle the litter pickers and the reusable bags. So, we got to work on a concept to prevent cross contamination.

We did the product research, we overcame obstacles, we trialled a product, we shared it on our socials and thanks to a follower on Twitter, we were asked for the ingredients list. We checked it. We were horrified. The hand ‘gels’ that we looked into have an ingredient called ‘carpobol aqua’, which is a, wait for it, MICRO PLASTIC. It means that 99% of the gel-based products are likely to contain plastics or ingredients that harm the environment.  This is serious. We can’t accept that. 

Remember those pesky micro beads that were in our toothpaste and facewash? They were abolished, and they were visible, but it’s heart-breaking to know that hidden microplastics such as carpobol aqua, part of the acrylates copolymer family, still exist in our everyday products. These polymers (plastics made up of two or more monomers like acrylic acid and methacrylic acid for example) are used to make products look transparent, shiny, smooth looking, ‘bedazzling’ and give products their elasticity. 

We asked plastics expert, Professor Richard Thompson his opinion. He suggested we could “minimise the risk by introducing control measures to limit the extent of a spill”.  We concluded that if a spill occurred, and usage was not monitored, finding an eco-friendly sanitiser was our only option. 

We at The 2 Minute Foundation are programmed to be ingredient aware and we push this mindset onto others via our #2minutesolution campaign. I want to know what goes into my shower gel, my washing up liquid, my soap, so when buying hand sanitiser, it’s no different.

Let’s ask for clearer labelling. Let’s change our thinking and heighten our awareness on what actually goes into the products we so rely on during this pandemic in particular, and everyday life. Join us in making this a #2minutesolution right now.  Just because a label says ‘vegan’ and ‘biodegradable’, does not mean that it’s eco-friendly. The eco-friendly options are out there – we know. 

We hope that we can be the driving force behind banning microplastics in hand sanitiser and other household products for that matter. It’s a big ambition, but we know this can be done. 

What’s next? We are working on finding a planet positive brand to recommend to all of our station guardians. We are going to be trialling eco-friendly options and help drive change by persuading manufacturers to eradicate the micro plastic element. We’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, watch this space for our homemade hand sanitiser recipes. It’s the perfect #2minutesolution. You never know, we may even start manufacturing our own eco friendly brand – anyone got a spare factory?

We’d love to have some feedback, so get in touch and start the conversation. 

Keep washing your hands!

Nicky and The 2 Minute Foundation team

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Bude based anti-litter campaign group, The 2 Minute Foundation, celebrates a new beginning with charity status and a message to all lovers of the great outdoors for 2020: “2 minutes can make all the difference!”

This week the 2 Minute Foundation celebrates its transition from non-profit to charity, after 6 years of campaigning to inspire beach goers and lovers of the great outdoors to take 2 minutes out of their day to make a difference. Their #2minutebeachclean campaign began in 2013 after ferocious Atlantic storms left the north Cornwall coast littered with plastic debris from the deep. Looking for help with the clean-up, founder Martin Dorey, a writer and surfer, turned to social media. Using the #2minutebeachclean hashtag for the first time, Martin posted pictures of beach litter in the hope that others would join in. They did.

To date there have been 127,000 pictures posted to Instagram, with countless others posted to Facebook and Twitter, amounting to hundreds of tonnes of beach litter removed from beaches, waterways and outdoor spaces worldwide. In 2014 the organisation set up 8 unique beach cleaning stations to make it easier for beach goers to get involved. They were so successful – resulting in a 61% drop in litter picked up on monthly clean ups on Crooklets beach in Bude – that there are now 800 #2minutebeachclean, #2minutelitterpick and #2minutestreetclean Stations (and even a trial coffee cup collecting station) around the UK and Ireland. Litter bags for some stations have been made from discarded festival tents to stop them from going to landfill, in partnership with Leopalloza Festival and Rooted Ocean.

As well as being featured on BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch, the #2minutebeachclean campaign was named as the top ‘way to get involved with ocean conservation’ by the Blue Planet 2 website after the Attenborough programme raised the important issue of plastic in our seas. In 2019 the campaign extended to prevention with the #2minutesolution and the publishing of ‘No More Plastic’, Dorey’s best-selling book about reducing plastic consumption.

Martin says of the project, “The success of the #2minutebeachclean campaign shows that small actions can add up to make a big difference. While we might not be able to save the planet on our own, our campaign encourages everyone to play their part. We know that collective actions can make a real difference.”

Being granted charity status will allow the 2 Minute Foundation to do more, inspiring people all over the world to take 2 minutes out of their day to clear up the world’s beaches, oceans, parks, streets and outdoor spaces.

Nicola Green, COO of the charity says of the new status, “Our team has worked hard to inspire people to do their bit and we hope that being awarded charity status will enable us to do even more. The oceans are under huge pressure from plastic waste and need us to clear up and prevent it from getting worse. Our work makes it easy for people to get involved and is always positive because we believe that every action can make a difference.”

“2020 will be an important year for us as we begin life as a charity,” Nicola continues, “as we already have plans for a network of volunteer Guardian Angels to look after our beach cleaning stations in the South West, thanks to an exciting new relationship with, and funding from, Swedish eco-clothing brand Fjӓllrӓven. We’re also working with long-time partners Surfdome, as well as Lush, Bunzl, Love, Beauty and  Planet and Boshers to put more stations in places that really need them. There’s a lot of litter out there!”

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All I want for Christmas is … a plastic free ocean!

Martin Dorey, surfer, writer and anti-plastic campaigner is full of ideas for reducing your plastic footprint and helping to heal our oceans. In his book, No. More. Plastic., he explains why it’s vital to live without single use plastic. Here he gives us his tips on how to enjoy a less wasteful, more principled and soulful Yuletide – without the plastic!

So, you saw Blue Planet 2. You – and the rest of us – were deeply shocked at the state of the oceans. Enough to make changes. You stopped buying bottled water. You gave up the straws. You are starting to save the world, one piece of plastic at a time. Good on you!

But now it’s time to take on the big one – the carnival of consumption and convenience that is Christmas. You can do it, of course, because you believe in a better way. You can tame this beast, because you know that the result will be a future with a healthier ocean. Your gift to the planet and to your children, if you like.

Goodness knows our seas, waterways and oceans need something special this year. They are choking because of our wasteful excesses and because of the plastics we allow to pollute them. Plastic is toxic, has recently been proven to release greenhouse gasses, and becomes more toxic in seawater. It doesn’t biodegrade and simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Fish and seabirds mistake it for food. Whales and dolphins eat it and get entangled in plastic rope and nets. Mussels ingest tiny fragments of plastic from our washing machines. And, whether we like it or not, it’s coming back at us.

We might do our beach cleans – well done all! – but the only way we’re really going to make a difference is by stopping the plastic at source. And that means making some important – and easy – Christmas choices.

Christmas is NOT cancelled

The great news is that you CAN enjoy a plastic-free Christmas without having to do without. It just needs a little thinking around the subject, some creativity, and perhaps even a nod to what our parents and grandparents did. How did they do Christmas without plastic?

ANSWER: They did it very well, actually.

Plastic-free giving

The giving of gifts is a symbolic gesture, an act of love. It isn’t about how much you can spend, how generous you are or what a show you want to put on, no matter what our culture tells us we need to do. So how about spending a little more time thinking and a little less time shopping. Make some fudge, sew some bags of lavender, bake biscuits or look for days out and experiences that your loved ones can enjoy and will remember long after the plastic presents have gone to landfill. A surf lesson? A day out to the London Aquarium? Give a gift with love and the ocean will thank you.

Wrap it up, sweetie

The next bit is easy too! Forget the foil and plastic paper and go for something simpler and more natural – like real paper – that can easily be recycled!!! How about buying plain newsprint and drawing on it, wrapping gifts for your friends in scarves (from your local charity shop, maybe) or just using old newspapers and jollying them up with coloured string or cotton ribbon. And ditch the sticky tape and bubble wrap. It’s plastic too.

The tree without the trash

You might need to forgo your plastic tree this year. Fake is so… fake news. Get a real tree with real roots that you can pot up and use again next year and the year after. It’ll smell better and will make Christmas more real than ever. Dump the tinsel too, and the baubles and the fake decorations and try some new (old) and better ways to decorate your house. Paper chains are fun to make. Dried slices of oranges, lemons and grapefruits smell amazing and can be hung from the branches (and composted afterwards). Spice them up with cloves or wrap up cinnamon sticks and hang them in coloured cotton ribbon. Make gingerbread men and women and hide them in the branches! If you can afford it, start a tradition by buying your kids a glass bauble each year.

Christmas dinner and none of the trimmings

Plastic free shopping is easily done, really, with a little shift in your mindset. Think about where it will go once you’ve done with it – do you know exactly what will happen to it? Be patient with those who don’t know better. They are going to try and force a bag, a straw, a plastic tub on you. But you can resist! You don’t need all the plastic trimmings.

Take your time to stay away from the supermarkets and seek out plastic free shops, farmers’ markets, bakeries, butchers and greengrocers. Sometimes it’s going to seem like a chore, but it is worth it. Every piece of plastic you DON’T use is one less piece going to landfill or the ocean. Take old takeaway cartons with you to the deli to refill, remember your reusable bags and try to avoid buying products wrapped in plastic. If they are, make sure they can be recycled. If it says ‘cannot currently be recycled’ avoid it like the Christmas plague.

When it comes to Christmas boozing, consider getting a Soda Stream for your mixer bubbles and kids’ refreshments, and avoid plastic bottles or single serve cans of tonic for your G and T. Got it? Great.

Happy Christmas!!!


Christmas is glitzy, but most of the gloss comes from fakery, plastic and cheap tat. You don’t need it. And neither does Christmas! Ditch it!

  • Balloons
  • Tinsel
  • Plastic baubles
  • Plastic and foil wrapping paper
  • Plastic packaging
  • Sticky tape
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic straws
  • Throwaway glasses, cups, plates, cutlery
  • Shop bought crackers and decorative tat


Having a plastic free Christmas is all about reusing, making and thinking. It’s about traditional values and making do with what we’ve got. Greed goes out the window – as it did for our grandparents.

  • Real trees with roots
  • Paper chains
  • Home-made decorations
  • Bad Dad jokes in home-made crackers
  • Gummed tape and string
  • Crayons and newsprint wrapping
  • Bags for life
  • Paper straws
  • Real glasses, cups and plates
  • Reused takeaway tubs at the deli
  • Home baked goods for pressies
  • Gifts of experiences and memories

Taking #2minute over the pond with #2minutecampusclean

from Andrea Harvey, campaigns manager at #2minutebeachclean

I’d been warned that it got hot in South Carolina in the summer. They weren’t joking with daily temperatures over 100o. Anyway, myself and social media guru Paul Trueman travelled to Clemson University with Renée Bedford from Coca-Cola North America to meet with their Dear Future Community Challenge grant winner, Bridget Cowen and the recycling team from Clemson, to check out the ideas we had developed together as part of Bridget’s grant winning idea to boost recycling on game days.

Unlike in the UK, US university sports are huge. Clemson Tigers, the university’s championship winning team, have an enormous following, with around 100,000 fans turning up to watch games and attend tailgating parties, where food and beverages are served under Clemson Tiger gazebos at the backs of pick-up trucks and cars. College football is such a big deal, that some of the national television networks screen the games live.

With 80,000 fans piling into the football stadium on a hot day, not getting sunburnt and keeping hydrated, are top priorities. With fans unable to bring in refillable water bottles into the stadium (but allowed to bring in a sealed bottle of water), potentially 80,000 plastic water bottles are being brought into the stadium during each home game, and to add to that, fans have further opportunities to buy refreshments from concessions inside the stadium.

All of this means that there is a lot of waste to be disposed of, recycled and processed outside of the stadium, as well as inside. One issue that the incredibly hard working Clemson University recycling team and their volunteers encounter after each game, is that a lot of material that could be recycled, is contaminated with food and drink waste. So, our task was to see how we could help reduce contamination of recycling and boost recycling rates overall.

To tackle these issues, working with Bridget, the Clemson University recycling team, the sustainability team at Coca-Cola North America and the local Coca-Cola bottler, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, we worked together to develop a toolkit of ideas that the University could use based around the idea of the #2minutebeachclean by creating the #2minutecampusclean. One idea was to give tailgaters clear plastic sacks with printed instructions on what and how to recycle. The hope is that these sacks will reduce contamination and increase the material recycled. Having clear sacks also makes the sorting job for the recycling team and their dedicated band of volunteers, who have to sort through the waste and recycling in the days following the game, easier and safer to deal with.

We sourced some orange recycling bins (that look like the Clemson football souvenir cups) for empty bottles and cans, and stickered some of the existing recycling bins to make them more obvious as to what their purpose was.

As well as investing in signage to be placed near the stadiums and of course, a #2minutebeachclean station for the artificial beach at the lake(!), the toolkit of ideas has really started to come together. We provided t-shirts to be given to the volunteers as a thank you for their outstanding efforts in handing out the recycling sacks, spreading the recycling message and sorting through the waste and recyclables in very hot and difficult conditions. Posters with recycling information were placed around campus and in bars and food outlets, thanks to Bridget and her sorority sisters. Bridget is also going to be working on some education resources for the local elementary school. We also had a specially designed #2minutestreetclean board made for this school.

To get fans in the #2minutecampusclean mood, they could win prizes by taking a photo of themselves recycling, using the #2minutecampusclean hashtag and posting it on social media.

We got lots of positive feedback from football fans about the messaging, the bags and the bins so it will be interesting to see if they have made any difference when the recycling rates have been analysed. Clemson University are already recycling champs, as they have won the RecycleMania National GameDay Recycling Championship in 2018 and 2017. The college football season runs until December so hopefully we won’t have too long to wait to find out what the outcome for 2019 will be, fingers crossed!