Turning Trash into Treasure

The biggest breakthrough in beach cleaning in 15 years?

Hello. It’s Martin Dorey here, founder of the #2minutebeachclean and CEO of the 2 Minute Foundation. I have some amazing news to share with you all that I believe is a real step forward in our fight against beach litter. After harbouring dreams of turning beach litter into something useful for many years we have finally been able to make something that we believe is the biggest step forward in beach cleaning in 15 years.

Beach clean stations made from marine litter.

In time, the stations could be made from the litter you pick up from your beach. The station could then go back on your beach to help and inspire others to pick up more litter. We think that’s a real innovation.

If you’ve got 2 minutes I’d like to tell you how it came about, why it’s taken so long and why it’s so important.

I have told the story of how I became enraged by beaches knee deep in plastic many times. The year was 2006 and the location was a beach in North Devon. Having just moved to a house in the hamlet above the beach I discovered a section of coastline that was knee deep in plastic bottles, fish crates, rope and net. It was truly horrendous. I vowed there and then to do something about beach litter, whatever it was. I honestly had no idea it would turn out to be this!

I organised a beach clean with the help of Torridge Rangers, The National Trust, my local primary school and friends and neighbours. We cleaned as far as the eye could see, made art from the finds with my friend Mrs Recycle, took the kids on rockpool rambles and, most importantly, gave each of the children a gift I had blagged from a plastics recycler and manufacturer. It was a ruler, made from recycled plastic. Afterwards we set up a BBQ and bar (adults only) on the beach and celebrated a job well done.

The ruler, a seemingly small thank you for the kids who worked so hard, was hugely significant. I wanted the hard work of the kids to come back to them in the form of something truly positive. It was a symbolic closing of the loop. Making good things out of litter, treasure out of trash.

From that one day of action many good things have happened. We are a charity. We have set up a beach school. We have inspired lots of people to go out and pick up litter, 2 minutes at a time. It took a while to get going, of course, as it wasn’t until 2013 that the #2minutebeachclean idea was born. But that beach clean was a seminal moment.

However, it’s been bugging me for all these years that we haven’t been able to do much with the litter we pick up. We certainly haven’t been able to chart its course from useless and dangerous pollutant to something useful.

Until now.

The brilliant team here at the 2 Minute Foundation have been working for years on turning beach litter into something useful. In fact, it was a conversation early in the development of our beach clean stations in 2014, that inspired the research: what if the stations could be made from the litter on the beach? As an idea it was too pure, too good. And besides, the infrastructure to make it happen did not exist yet. That’s why we have been making them out of wood and laminate. It wasn’t ideal but would have to do for the time being.

Now I am happy to report that we have achieved what we thought would be impossible in 2014.

We have made a prototype beach cleaning station out of marine litter. It’s been a long road, has taken an army of people to organise, with lots of dead ends and twists and turns, but it’s finally happened.

The short story is this:

Plastic can be recycled. We know this. But plastics that are contaminated are not easy to recycle. Plastic also gets downgraded the more it gets recycled, which is why your average drinks bottle never turns into another drinks bottle. It always ends up as insulation or a bench or something of a lower grade. Riz Smith, our friend at Riz Boardshorts, has been making shorts from recycled bottles for a while now. So we know good stuff can come from trash, for sure, just not OUR trash.

The trouble with beach plastic is that it’s already really low grade and is worth nothing to recyclers. While nets and nylon can go to become kayaks, as made by our friends at Fathoms Free and Odyssey Innovation, or by Econyl, most of what we find is too degraded to become anything else and, ultimately, becomes landfill or goes to be incinerated for energy. Both of these solutions are one-way streets. The end is the end.

However, recently the Ocean Recovery Project, headed up by long-time supporter and all round beach cleaner extraordinaire Neil Hembrow and Matt Hulland from ORP Recycling, have been able to shred hard beach plastics and get them pressed into boards. They did this for the stage at Glastonbury in 2019. This was the breakthrough needed to work on our dreams. It was the missing link, if you like. After much research, our COO Nicky found a company, Reworked, that could take beach plastic from us, press it into sheets and then CNC cut and shape the sheets into products. They jumped at the chance!

All the while we had been dreaming of doing something with the plastic we gather – the elephant in the room – we have been building a network of stations around the country and an army of volunteers (both official and unofficial) to gather plastic. We have over 900 stations, thanks to you, Surfdome, Keep Britain Tidy’s BeachCare project and Deb Rosser and Kim Stevens. Thanks to Fjallraven and Bunzl we also have more than 20 Guardian Angels in Devon, Cornwall, London and Dorset who look after our stations and who, we hope, in time will be able to help us gather and store marine plastics to go to recycling. We now stock stations with reusable bags made from upcycled discarded festival tents, with our partners Rooted Ocean. We have a few bins (made from fishing nets gathered by Odyssey Innovation) around the coast to gather the litter and we hope to put out even more in 2021. This is the infrastructure – or the beginnings of it – that we need to begin rolling out recycled marine litter beach cleaning stations in 2021.

We think this innovation has come at the perfect time. We’re all in need of a little good news at the moment. Once lockdown lifts it’ll feel great to get out and about in the spring sunshine. What better excuse to spend the whole day at the beach, in the park or in your local green spaces than litter picking? Let’s look after the planet as well as our bodies and minds.

The most exciting thing for me is that we should be able to turn a beach clean into a beach cleaning station to place back on the beach. It is truly circular and fulfils a dream to make useful things out of stuff that’s worth nothing. Not only will it save us from using new materials to make beach clean stations in the future but it will also inspire people to go and collect their own stations! That means we are turning beach waste into a resource that can be used for good instead of going to landfill or continuing to choke our oceans!

Turning trash into treasure!

We are excited.

What next?

  • We are looking for sponsors to help us roll out the stations all over the UK and beyond.
  • We are looking for green transport to help us transport marine litter to our processor.
  • We are looking for volunteer beach cleaners who can gather and store marine plastic.
  • We are looking for funding to make the first 100 stations.

Contact nicky@2minute.org if you can help us in any way.

OUR CHALLENGE

It takes 3 tonnes of marine plastic to make 100 stations. So we’ve set ourselves a challenge. The 2 Minute HQ team have pledged to collect these 3 tonnes before the end of lockdown, meaning we’ll be able to crack on with the first 100 stations by spring. We’ll be out collecting as much beach litter as we can find during our lockdown exercise time!

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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

If you would like to hear more about our campaigns and how we can all do our bit to clean up the planet 2 minutes at a time, please subscribe to our newsletter here. If you’d like to support us with a donation, please do so here

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STAY HOME. STAY SAFE. STAY POSITIVE.

Hello! Here at 2 Minute HQ we are starting to get seriously worried about YOU. We need you to stay safe so that we can continue the fight against marine plastic another day. We’ve had reports of beaches busy with people this weekend. We don’t think it’s right for anyone to go out if there is any risk to themselves or to others of being infected with Coronavirus. Please do not contribute. We have asked our Guardians and Guardian Angels to ensure that our #2minutebeachclean #2minutelitterpick and #2minutestreetclean stations are withdrawn from use today. At the very least we will remove all litter pickers and bags.

While litter picking and beach cleaning in total isolation may not be a risk in itself, we believe that now is the time for extreme caution and staying at home.

Thank you very much. We appreciate all you do for us and look forward to seeing you all on the beach in the near future.

READ: UK BEACHES BUSY DESPITE ISOLATION PLEA

How about a #2minuteunderthesinktidy?

Can’t stop cleaning up? Us too. So we’ve decided, in view of the above, to start at home. It’s a great opportunity to tidy up the attic, plant some veg, take a peek under the bed and have a jolly good clear out under the sink. Or how about reassessing your waste? Now is the time to think about how you can reduce your plastic and help to stop beaches getting clogged up with plastic waste. And, at the moment it will help our local councils by taking at least some of the pressure off. The less waste you produce, the less they have to deal with during this crisis.

Not for you? How about #2minutesofpositivity?

You may have seen that we’ve been trying to keep our spirits up lately on social media. We’ve had some fun!! Nicky, our COO has shown her hidden talent for singing in the latest one, which went out yesterday. Take a peek. She has an amazing voice!! What’s your secret talent? Show us by making a video and tagging us @2minutebeachclean and adding #2minutesofpositivity.

WATCH: Nicky’s amazing 2 minutes

Thank you and with love,

Martin and the 2 Minute Team.

If you would like to hear more about our campaigns and how we can all do our bit to clean up the planet 2 minutes at a time, please subscribe to our newsletter here. If you’d like to support us with a donation, please do so here

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GIVE 2 MINUTES FOR PLANET EARTH IN 2020

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!”

If you would like to hear more about our campaigns and how we can all do our bit to clean up the planet 2 minutes at a time, please subscribe to our newsletter here. If you’d like to support us with a donation, please do so here

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