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Posted on Dec 19, 2017 by

Martin Dorey describes himself as a writer, surfer and camper van owner. He is also the driving force behind the #2minutebeachclean, “..a growing family of beach lovers rolling up our sleeves to help rid the world’s beaches of marine litter and plastic pollution, two minutes at a time.”

Using Twitter and Instagram to try to inspire others, Martin came up with the idea of picking up litter for just two minutes at a time – but every time – and began using the hashtag. Since then many thousands of hashtagged posts have appeared on Instagram and Twitter from every continent.

What was the motivation for starting #2minutebeachclean?

It came about in the winter of 2013/2014, after a really bad storm. The amount of litter washing up on beaches was overwhelming, so I decided to pick up litter for two minutes each time I visited.

But my journey with beach cleaning started in 2009 when I moved near to a beach in north Devon, and it was just knee deep in plastic. I vowed at this point to do something about it, and tried starting ‘a bottle for every wave’ – aimed at surfers, the idea being that if you have a nice wave, you take a bottle off the beach to say thank you. The #2minutebeachclean originated from this thought, that everybody should do a little bit each time.

Was the idea met with a positive reaction?

Originally the network was set up to put beach clean volunteers in touch with beach clean organisers (back before Facebook did this job), and we had a really good response. It was working, but it never really took off. But the #2minutebeachclean, on the other hand, went off from day one, and people got involved right from the very beginning.

How can people get involved?

Just pick up litter! The #2minutebeachclean is really a way of getting people into the idea that you can pick up an awful lot of litter in just two minutes, and two minutes out of your day is nothing. But what we’d really like to do is get everyone picking up litter, and then to start thinking about what happened upstream – how did the litter get on to the beach, and how can we stop it? And that’s the most important issue.

As a surfer, you must spend a lot of time on or near beaches. Is there noticeably more plastic littler on beaches now compared to, say, ten years ago? Do you have any tips for reducing our plastic footprint?

I remember it used to be aerosol cans, and driftwood, but that’s all benign so not so much of a problem. In the last 20 years it has increased massively. I can remember a cargo spill from 1996, which is probably the first time I got really aware of beach litter, but it’s definitely on the increase because we’re using more plastic.

When it comes to tips – don’t buy bottled water, take one with you instead. Don’t accept coffee cups, take your own with you (you’ll quite often get a discount if you do this). Don’t accept straws. Try to avoid single use plastics wherever you can. And let the manufacturers know that you don’t want overly-plastic products by not buying them.

It looks like the message is now reaching a global audience. Do you have any further plans to expand into other countries?

It’s been running in Ireland for three years now. They have been running it as a national campaign, which is amazing. And it has been running in Israel and Puerto Rico, and we’re really trying to get into the ‘blue flag’ nations. But it is being used all over the world.

Can people come to hear you speak about the #2minutebeachclean story anywhere in the near future?

There is an event in Bude next year that I’ll be speaking at, and I was in Ireland last week speaking at the Green Schools Conference, which was amazing. I am always happy to speak about the project, so if anyone wants to book me, go for it! (You can contact Martin via his website.) 

You’ve just released a #2minutebeachclean app – could you tell us a little about this?

We’ve got a network of 350 beach clean stations around the country, and the app will tell people where the nearest blue flag beach is, or where the nearest beach clean station is. And importantly it allows people to take pictures of their litter, upload it to Instagram, and count the items.

That data then comes back to us, so we can say, for example – we’ve had 100 people pick up cola bottles at Summerleaze Beach – why is there a problem with this type of litter at this beach, more than any other? In theory we’ll see patterns in the data, which allows us to target the people that are being careless. If enough people use it, we’ll get a live picture of what’s happening day to day. It’s got such potential, and is available on Android right now.

What does the future hold for #2minutebeachclean?

We want to see as many people picking up litter as possible, and also to try and make it an official charity.

We just want to get it out to as many people as possible, both in this country and internationally, so we can start seeing all the benefits it will bring.

Get in touch….

You can follow #2minutebeachclean on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and Martin’s website is

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