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Change the World in Two Minutes: Five Things to Do Now That Will Make a Difference to Ocean Plastic

Posted on 2nd May 2018 by Martha Greengrass

Martin Dorey is a writer and campaigner. Ever since he stumbled upon a beach in Devon that was ‘knee deep’ in plastic bottles, he’s been on a mission to help clear up ocean plastic. He's organised beach cleans, put beach cleaners in touch with volunteers via social media and picked up a lot of litter himself. Then, in 2013, he started the #2minutebeachclean – and that’s when things started to go crazy.

Now, ten years on from that first discovery, he’s written a book about simple things you can do to reduce your impact on the oceans, No. More. Plastic. And here he’s written us a special blog to celebrate its launch with some simple ideas for how everyone can make a difference.

The #2minutebeachclean has been such a success – it was named by the Blue Planet 2 website as top of the list of ways to get involved in ocean conservation – because of its simplicity. All we ask is that you do 2 minutes litter picking each and every time you go to any outside space. The #2minutebeachclean understands you can’t do it all, allows you to stop when you want to and invites you to do more. It also tells you that every bit you do does make a difference.

The #2minutesolution is our upstream version of this. It’s our effort to encourage people everywhere to make small changes upstream that will have a direct effect on ocean pollution downstream. So, taking the starting points from No. More. Plastic., let’s look at five things you can do right now to make a difference.

1. Think about where it all goes for 2 minutes

This isn’t too much of an ask is it? Nope. Just spend 2 minutes thinking about your supermarket shop next time you bring it home. Look at the plastic it comes in, whether that’s plastic bags or wrap or film. Think about what will happen to it when you have finished with it. Can it be recycled? Can it be composted? Can it be reused? If it can’t then think about how you could do without it. Your brain is the greatest weapon you have in the fight against plastic. Anything that can’t be recycled, reused or composted is basically going in to a hole in the ground where it will stay forever. If it doesn’t it could be heading for the ocean. 

2. Go outside and pick up litter for 2 minutes 

If you ever thought you couldn’t make a difference, go into your local park, street or open space, set the timer on your phone for 2 minutes and pick up litter. You may well be surprised how much you can collect in such a short space of time. It won’t make you late or exhaust you and yet you should be able to see – instantly – what a difference it makes. All that litter is now not going to find its way into the ocean through the waterways or storm drains. It won’t become microplastic and it won’t get into the food chain. Bravo.

3. Change your habits for 2 minutes

One of the things we’ve been doing at the #2minutebeachclean is collecting data via our app (search: beachclean). This has enabled us to take a look at the stuff that people have been picking up around the world. Looking at the data one thing stood out: there are a few items that we all use every day that make up a third of beach litter: bottles, bottle tops, wet wipes, cotton bud sticks, straws and cutlery, sweet wrappers and crisp packets and plastic bags.

If you change your habits you can cut this all out. Start with a refillable water bottle and a reusable coffee cup and go on from there: use a flannel, ditch straws and stop eating sweets that come in non-recyclable wrappers. Swapping them might be a hassle but it’s no more than a 2 minute fix. Go for it.

4. Use your voice to change the world

You might feel insignificant in this world, but take it from me you aren’t. You have a voice and you can use it to change the world. You can refuse to buy products that come wrapped in plastic or demand that your suppliers at work switch to cardboard packaging or ask your local café to stop giving out straws. It only takes 2 minutes to make a stand. You might not be the type to unwrap all your shopping at the till, but it’s nothing to take an empty takeaway box to the deli counter and ask them to put your food in it. Do it with a smile and good things can and will happen. Who knows, someone might see you and feel empowered to do it themselves. 

Everything you do matters. So do it.

5. Ditch the 'disposables' - and the hype

Shaving is big business. We all may do it at some point or other, which requires products, whether that’s bottles of shaving cream or some new-fangled device with 7 blades that promises to shave you closer. It won’t. It’s all hype. 

We’re all tied in to buying stuff that we don’t really need – especially razors. Yet safety razors work just as well as disposables and create very little waste (just a blade every few weeks). Using them, along with a brush and a bar of shaving soap will save you a small fortune. It might take 2 minutes more each morning to get it right, but you’ll soon get the hang of it and you’ll feel much better knowing you’ve got more cash in your pocket and aren’t contributing to the massive problem that’s our plastic waste.

Go you. You’re already starting to look like a hero.

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