• PLASTIC:Unwrapped

40 minutes with 5 Things Clear

Updated: Jun 5

18 months ago we saw a plea on Facebook asking individuals to join a litter pick-up challenge that was born out of an initiative called 5ThingsClear. Little did we know that we would end up working closely with its founder, Simon Jordan, thanks to aims that are very closely linked with ours.

At the time of reaching out to Simon we were very much in the early days of PLASTIC: Unwrapped. We were having to go about pitching our hypothetical idea having not yet received our scholarship. Despite the uncertainty of our plan, Simon was one of the first people to express interest in collaboration. Within days we were on the phone chatting about our backgrounds and the work we wanted to pursue through the project and Simon kindly gave us advice that went on to shape the output of PLASTIC: Unwrapped.

He has become a mentor for us and has helped us spread the message of our project through social media and even a podcast (which you can find here). Whilst our face-to-face meet scheduled for earlier this month inevitably had to be cancelled, we managed to catch up with him last week and we are keen to share his message with you in this post.

What is 5ThingsClear and what was the inspiration behind it?

Many people ask us what the inspiration was behind our project and we believe that this is a really powerful and important tool when it comes to sharing our message, as it allows for a better overall understanding of our aims and where they came from. For this reason we asked Simon to share with us not only what 5ThingsClear is but where the idea came from. In Simon's case, it was a series of particularly memorable incidences that meant he felt he simply had to take action and make a difference in the world of sustainable practices, which he explains himself below:

"If we all picked up just 5 pieces, we'd clear the beach pretty quickly"

Following his light bulb moment back in 2017, Simon started small with an Instagram account that he shared amongst friends for feedback and within less than 2 months it had gone global. The #5thingsclear hasthag went viral and was attracting litter-collecting action from a host of countries including Japan, the US, Canada, Idonesia, Russia and several European countries. It was inspiring to hear him speak about how, even 3 years ago, it was possible to gain momentum so quickly in a world where it sometimes feels impossible to get your voice heard. Simon has managed to transform his environmental passion into a collective movement that is growing by the day.

Aside from litter picking, what else does Simon do with 5ThingsClear?

You only have to take a look at the 5ThingsClear social media pages to see that Simon has been able to grow the initiative in ways that go beyond litter collection. We asked him to explain what else he gets up to and it turns out that as well as promoting the need for environmental awareness and action online, he has now been invited to speak in a number of schools and to several businesses to help share the core messages of 5ThingsClear. We especially enjoyed hearing Simon share his tactics for engaging children and adults alike because too often we see statistics being thrown at people with no explanation or lengths of text that are deemed uninteresting and are therefore ignored. Simon instead goes in and speaks at a very personal and indeed approachable level to remind people that our pets, our homes, our families and all of the things we love depend upon the environment. Whilst he tends to get a good response all round, he explained that children are especially receptive to his message which is great to hear as they of course represent the future!

"Your home isn't just the four walls you live in, it's the outside world as well"

Given the current situation surrounding COVID-19, what can we as individuals do to continue to help the planet?

One thing we discussed at length with Simon is that under the current global circumstances, tackling the environment is something that seems to have taken a backseat. Whilst there have been certain advantages of the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK (such as increased bee pollination due to reduced air pollution, and a decrease in direct and indirect disruption to wild animals due to reduced footfall in usually crowded places), when it comes to plastic, it can feel as though we've taken a step backwards. At a time when single-use plastic straws have been deemed harmful and unnecessary, there has been a huge increase in production and usage of other disposable products due to fear of infection risk. This is challenging problem to solve because of the risk of public health. Where a straw is unnecessary, plastic gloves play a vital role for carers and health care professionals. I think the conclusion that we came to is that where possible, continue to choose plastic alternatives unless it jeopardises the health or wellbeing of yourself or those around you. Below Simon is reminding us of some simple actions we can take to reduce our impact despite the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Before we leave you with a final message from Simon we would like to encourage you to head over to the 5ThingsClear website to take a look for yourself at how you can join the #5thingsclear pledge and start making a difference within your community that will go on to have huge impact on the wider and global community. Even a simple share or follow will help Simon in his mission to encourage more of us to take action and take responsibility for our impact on the planet.

People are powerful. People share and sharing is how we learn. Learning new things and keeping an open mind is the key to moving forward with sustainability so thank you, Simon, for sharing your powerful message with us and for supporting us throughout the duration of our PLASTIC: Unwrapped journey!

A final message from Simon about the importance of individual action: