Plastic Free July and The 2 Minute Foundation
The 2 Minute Foundation have been pioneering approaches to changing mindsets towards plastic waste since they launched the hashtag #2MinuteBeachClean in 2013. Their innovative 2 Minute Beach Clean and Litter Pick stations are now in over 1000 locations across the UK and have inspired thousands of people to pick up litter. Now the charity’s new Marine Plastic stations, made from plastic waste found on beaches, are starting conversations about how to reduce what we use.
Plastic Free July is a great way for people to get involved to mitigate their impact, think about what they’re buying and, hopefully, to make some permanent changes to reduce the amount of plastic in their day to day lives. Behavioural change and changing mindsets towards plastics are key to navigating our way through the 21 st century with as minimal impact as possible. However, getting people to notice the issue and make lasting behavioural change remains a challenge. The 2 Minute Foundation has found that when it comes to encouraging people to rethink their consumption, the 2 Minute Litter Pick and Beach Clean stations are a great place to start.
Claire Giner, Head of Education at The 2 Minute Foundation explains; “When people start litter picking they notice what they are picking up and make the connection with what they consume. Our campaign #2MinuteSolution inspires people to take part in sustainable and simple actions, to help lead a more eco-friendly life. You can make a planet positive choice today by switching your single use coffee cup to a reusable one, doing a kitchen cupboard audit, remembering to take your reusable bag or containers to the supermarket or looking at changing your bank to a more ethical one, to name a few.”
Martin Dorey, who began the campaign in 2013 was always bothered by the fact that most of the plastic collected couldn’t be recycled, ending up in landfill or incinerated for energy. Martin explains, “Usually plastic can be recycled, but that’s not possible if it’s contaminated. Also, plastic gets downgraded each time it’s recycled. The trouble with what we find on beaches is that it’s already really low grade, so although there are amazing companies making good stuff from trash, we can’t recycle most of what we find when we beach clean.”
The solution has been found by partnering with Reworked who collect and crush and mould the low grade marine plastics into tough plastic sheets and with help and advice from The Ocean Recovery Project who already specialise in turning low-grade plastic into StormBoard. This material has now been used to make Marine Plastic Beach Clean stations. The revolutionary stations are a circular solution to the marine pollution crisis and a limited number are now available for businesses and local authorities to purchase.
Nicky Green, CEO of The 2 Minute Foundation describes the journey “We made the prototype in 2021 and then the race was on to collect low-grade plastic from our beaches to make the stations. The team collected 1 tonne of waste during lockdown, and we are excited to now have stations available for people to purchase for their communities! We’re aiming for a truly closed loop operation; a community could litter pick and that litter could be made into a station for their patch – station provenance and a real circular economy.’
Plastic pollution in the ocean is already having a devastating impact on marine wildlife and ecosystems and this impacts us all. The oceans cover 71% of the planet, produce 50 -80% of our oxygen and absorb carbon emissions. Human health is also at risk, as microplastics - plastic broken down from larger litter - are ingested in our food.
The crisis is growing, it is estimated that by 2040 50kg of plastic per metre of coastline will be going into the ocean each year. However, individuals can slow this crisis. “People will pick up an average of 2kg of plastic doing a 2 Minute Clean using one of our stations”, Nicky explains “if thousands of people are doing that every day, then the impact is huge. We believe that we’ve picked up 400,000 tonnes of litter. This is about empowering people to do what they can to help clear up the planet.”
Gareth Jones at Keep Wales Tidy ordered one of the first marine plastic stations, which is now stationed in Rhyl, Wales. ‘We’ve seen loads of people using the station board and they have all commented what a great idea it is. It adds an incredible aspect to the story that the whole board is made from recycled marine plastics collected from our beaches. Beach cleaning is such an important activity and issue and when people try out the station, they find it is also great fun!’
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