#2MinuteBeachClean and the power of individual, collective action

2 minute beach clean twitter screenshots
Screen capture Twitter

You are not alone. Even when you are...

I'm kind of a weirdo when I'm at the beach.

While my family are hunting around for magical seashells or mermaids, I can often be found picking up plastic bottles, styrofoam takeout containers and those rigid plastic dental floss thingies. (Who the heck flosses their teeth at the beach?!) In some ways, this small act of conservation makes me feel better by leaving an ever so slightly positive impact on our much abused oceans. On the other hand, though, it often feels futile—especially when I'm surrounded by folks sipping through plastic straws from their plastic cups that may or may not make it to an appropriate trash receptacle.

That's why I'm so excited about the idea of #2MinuteBeachClean, which appears to be currently surging in my native UK, obsessed as it is with Blue Planet II at the moment. The concept pretty much speaks for itself, so I'll spare you a long and redundant explanation. But here's just a sampling of the activities being documented under the #2MinuteBeachClean hashtag on twitter over the New Year weekend:

It's really quite inspiring. While organized, group-led beach cleans are a wonderful idea, they can be hard to come across, and take a lot of resources to organize. But just like similar ideas like Litterati.org, #2MinuteBeachClean creates a permission structure and a community that makes you feel like less of a weirdo when you're voluntarily picking up other people's nasty trash.

Of course, #2MinuteBeachCleans are never going to solve the plastics pollution crisis alone. Whether it's taxes on single use plastics, companies pledging to incorporate ocean plastics into their supply chains and reduce their overall plastic production, or towns and cities stepping up to cut down on disposable plastic use, we are going to need all of the tools at our disposal to clean up this mess we've created. We're probably going to have to find a way to clean up the plastics that are already out in the high seas too.

Nevertheless, aside from making a small but very real dent in the amount of plastics and other trash on our beaches, #2MinuteBeachClean is an accessible, pro-active "on ramp" for concerned citizens wondering what they can do to help. And it gives me license to keep doing what I do without feeling too much like an oddball...

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