A couple of weeks ago, we had the utter pleasure of catching up for a ‘Sit and Yarn with…’ Nicky Green, CEO of the national charity, The 2 Minute Foundation.
The 2 Minute Foundation, based in the South-West with their new offices currently being built right on Crooklets Beach, Bude, are a planet passionate bunch of environmentalists, who believe that simple acts can add up to make a big difference to our environment, particularly regarding plastic litter and pollution. Their aim is to encourage all of us to do our bit in protecting our world by changing the way we interact with it.
Nicky, an environmentally conscious, avid singer, beach goer, cold-water swimmer (she adds, at the very least a daily cold shower!), and a devoted mum of two smaller humans, started out with The 2 Minute Foundation in 2015, working with Martin Dorey, the founder of the 2 minute beach clean hashtag (#2minutebeachclean), just after her eldest child was born.
May ’23 ‘A Sit and Yarn with…. Nicky Green from #2minutefoundation
“I just love the energy the beach and the ocean gives me… From that, I have developed a real urge to protect it”…
So how did all things 2 Minute Foundation start for you, Nicky?
“I’d heard in the background that this hashtag was becoming more and more popular. It wasn’t long after Instagram was sort of was born really. I started following the hashtag to see what it was all about. I just wanted to be part of this amazing movement that was happening right in front of our eyes.”
“At that point, I took on more hours, more responsibility and got my foot in the door doing something I cared about”.
Can you explain a little bit about how ‘2 minute’ works? Do you have other 2 minute campaigns along side the 2 minute beach clean?
“2 minute beach clean was our first campaign but we’ve got other campaigns too – the inland campaign 2 minute litter pick, 2 minute solutions and our 2 minutes of positivity that we actually created in lockdown to inspire people to take two minutes out of their day to simply stay positive.
The 2 minutes of positivity might involve just taking the time to sit and breathe, sit in the sun, exercise, clearing out a cupboard, whatever! Just doing something that makes you feel good. That could also be picking up litter of course, so that sort of goes hand in hand really. We are really pushing this campaign now, especially with climate anxiety. It’s really important to sit back and try to stay positive and navigate yourself through the climate crisis”.
…And what about 2 minute solutions? What does that involve?
“Our 2 minute solutions campaign is about the simple swaps we can all make, everyday… So, the tents that Rooted Ocean got from us to upcycle into beach-clean bags is a 2 minute solution because it’s reusing old and discarded tents and repurposing them into another life.
The overall aim of 2 minute solutions is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and transition to more green energy. People don’t get it, but plastic is oil! We all need to understand this.
We are ‘fuelling’ (excuse the pun), the fossil fuel issue by buying single use plastics. If we can do our little bit and think about our 2 minute solutions like taking our reusable water bottle or coffee cup for our days out we immediately mitigate our fossil fuel use! It’s the main thing I bug my friends about [laughs]! We celebrate small wins, and if everyone does their bit, collective change happens.
But maybe, we will start to buy jumbo packs of an item rather than 10 smaller packs to reduce our use of packaging, and that’s a job well done.
The ocean is our biggest carbon sink, we need to protect it, as well as all the waterways that lead into it. People love the beach and the ocean, but we humans are sadly harming it. It’s essential for human life – every breath we take is the oxygen supplied to us from the ocean”.
So why ‘2 minutes’? Why not more?![laughs]
“Every 2 minutes you do really matters. It’s all about small, incremental acts. It always starts with those small acts of picking up litter, but can quickly move onto our overall lifestyle choices, how and what we consume.
Being part of 2 minutes is just really making it part of your day… Just normalising picking up in places that you love, live and visit. If you see litter, just pick it up, for two minutes…To show respect and thanks to the area. I don’t understand how anyone can visit an area they love, a beauty spot and just leaving their waste there. It’s all about protecting what you love. We don’t shame here at 2 Minute. We encourage everyone to take small manageable steps towards a more plastic aware lifestyle.
Anyone can pick up. 2 minutes is totally accessible to pretty much everyone!
It really is the small steps that we all need to take to ease our anxieties and make our actions move in the right direction, for our own mental health and the planet. It can quite easily start with your own immediate environment, and obviously we can’t do everything. 2 minutes are achievable”.
What sort of feedback have you been getting from people who have taken up the charity’s initiatives and campaigns?
“Doing your little two minutes really can get those happy hormones activated gets you connected with likeminded people, creates community. At the very start, The 2 Minute Foundation were empowering and inspiring people to start their own thing. Whether that might be, their own art business they’ve set up using beach litter to create art, or go into a school and do a talk, or wanting to rally up their community to create change.
These people were our fledglings and almost a decade on, as a national charity, just to see how these people have grown and created these amazing organisations, it inspires others to take action.
It’s that positive ripple effect and a great example of a ‘pass it on’ culture”.
What can we do to get involved and start making changes? Do we need to come to Bude to start volunteering or are there other ways people can help-out?
“You can go on social media and give us a follow @2minutehq. You can see our community and what wonderful things we are up to.
If you want to come down to Bude and actually become a physical volunteer, there’s a volunteer’s page on our website that gives you more information… everyone’s welcome to join in!”
Over the last few years, we are hearing more and more about ‘climate anxiety’. Could you tell us a little bit about what it is and the impact it is having on us?
“Climate anxiety really is real. People are truly feeling overwhelming concern.
People are reading and consuming the news. With the new IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report [March, 2023] that’s come out, we need to ask, why aren’t more people being active in this crisis? There really are a lot of groups and people who don’t recognise how urgent this all is. We need systemic change right now.
I personally have really struggled with climate anxiety. Working in this field can be quite tough at times. I read all this stuff, I see all the evidence and facts, I see change in front of my eyes, and I can see that other people are struggling too.
I chose to ask myself ‘what can I do today to make me feel better?’ So, I would go to the beach and start picking up litter. For me it was the real catalyst for change. Change in how I felt and change towards being more plastic aware for our environment. By creating momentum, we relieve our anxieties. We all need to be good stewards of our planet and taking part in small acts, 2 minutes at a time makes you feel like you have accomplished something and an act of gentle activism in itself.”
So, what great things are up next for The 2 Minute Foundation?
“From September this year, we will be going into schools and connecting with the community at the same time. It’s our new model for our engagement arm, that is now named the Inspiration and Impact department. We do home education sessions on the beach every week and Ocean Protectors which is for GCSE age range young people as well as CSR sessions for corporates who visit us, or we go to them to teach them about plastic pollution in their locations.
Schools do already come to us on the beach as well for Beach School where we talk about the tides and cliff erosion as well as pick up litter. But we will be starting to go into schools more often. For children it’s so important to change their mindsets early on. For them to go home and have that ‘pester power’ to their parents [laughs].
At Beach School we had a young person that had come to a few of our sessions, and it was like that light bulb moment in him, you could see it. We’d found some crisp packets on the beach earlier that day, and when he opened-up his lunch box and saw he had a packet of crisps, the penny dropped. Of course, we are all human, we all have snacks and crisps! But it’s about creating a thought processes and awareness that will initiate that change from a young age. This young person may have gone home to ask his parent if he could buy his crisps in larger packets, or from a zero-waste shop. At 2 Minute, we are not about holding individuals to account but to get them to think a bit differently about their consumer choices and navigate their way through their lives during the climate crisis.
We also have two exciting tours coming up… We are here, we’re coming for you!
We’re going to Northumberland to schools and speak to the community, get the local press involved, spruce up our stations that are up there. Then we are doing an inner city one in Birmingham in September time to promote our upstream #2MinuteLitterPick campaign.
We’re spreading the word, continuing with that ripple effect, getting more people involved, normalising the use of non-plastics, and empowering everyone to do their bit, their own little bit for their planet”.