Published: Wednesday February 4, 2015.

Deal with it, deal with it; hashtag dealwithit

In late January, I broke a self-imposed rule on not using hashtags on Twitter. Three times, actually. I’m not a big social media person. I was, but not so much these days. I know the nuts and bolts of it, I know the business cases for and against it, and I am paid for advising people on the pros and cons of using it within their organisation.

The no hashtags rule (henceforth demoted to a guideline, for now) I had was a reaction to every man + dog splattering them all over the place without understanding how to use them correctly. I went through a phase in about 2009-11 where I got so heartily sick of the amount of dross floating around it was negatively affecting my days. I shut accounts down and walked away.

Since the start of 2015 I’ve been getting back into Twitter and being very careful who I pay attention to. One of the folks who I do listen to is Martin Dorey. I was introduced to Martin by way of a TV show called One Man and His Campervan. I remember being a bit cynical at the time, especially in the final stages of a rocky relationship, that this guy could travel around the country and cook stuff in a van. Then go surfing. Or maybe go surfing first, then find some stuff for sale at the side of the road and make a tasty meal from it.

All that said, one thing that he did introduce me to at the time was Egg Banjos: gooey fried eggs in some bread. I have taken to eggs in a big way since I moved to Cornwall, and get through two or more each day, invariably cooked Banjo-style for breakfast. Another thing that Martin has introduced me to is the two-minute beach clean, more commonly known on the Twitter as the hashtag #2minutebeachclean.

That’s the only time I use a hashtag in this piece. I promise.

Pretty straightforward premise, really: there’s far too much junk in the sea that shouldn’t there, and we should all do something about it. Now, I am not in the habit of dropping my broken fishing nets overboard or throwing empty plastic bottles of soft drinks in the sea. Never have been, either. I’m also not an active user of the Atlantic – I’m not a surfer or regular swimmer, as much as I’d like to be – but it is just down the road from me.

Some of the sea junk ends up on the beach, especially when the the winds blow it inland. I did my first two-minute beach clean last week, and my second at the weekend. It was cold outside. There was a gale blowing down at the strand line. It was hailing. My face felt like someone was shooting frozen peas at it. I am sure my beard grew another millimetre to protect me from the battering.

I’ve filled two big bags full of junk from the beach. Two full bags of stuff that would likely have blown further inland or been washed out to sea. I found nets, fishing line, rubber, plastic, nails and all manner of unidentitied tat.

The best part? I got down to the beach, picked up some litter and didn’t feel like it was a punishment for a past crime. Admittedly the frozen peas thing wasn’t the most fun I’ve had, and it’ll be much easier to do in spring, but I am confident there’s a little less trash bobbing around in the Atlantic.

I much prefer being battered by the elements than hiding behind a screen. It felt absolutely amazing. I’m going to make this a thing for February, on top of the exercise and health thing. All I need to do is find some empty bags.