What Is Plogging and How to Start

When you work as a writer, you are a word nerd. This is a given. You like hearing your niece use terms like viscous (at the age of two – true story). You get a thrill when a word shows up in a book that you haven’t heard before. I repeat: Word. Nerd.

So when I heard the term “plogging” I was intrigued. To be quite honest, I couldn’t even guess what it might mean. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I didn’t have to wait for long. (Kids – back in the day, we used a book called a dictionary, but that’s a story for another day…)

 

So What Is Plogging?

 

Here it is: Plogging = jogging + picking up trash. Plogging.

This workout trend started in Sweden, a country that is progressive and attractive. (I have lots of friends from there, so I need to shout out to their looks in case they’re reading). In Swedish, “plocka upp” translates to “picking up” so it naturally combines with jogging into a portmanteau.

The plogging hashtag on Instagram has almost 24,000 posts. It hardly seems like the work of one beautiful country (again: hi, friends). It’s also not nearly as complex as other workout trends. You go for a run with one addition: a trash bag (some ploggers run with gardening gloves to keep things sanitary). Then, your eco-friendly do-gooding is combined with your ability to crush it, fitness-wise.

You run; you pick up trash. How much is up to you. If you live in a city that doesn’t seem to respect the environment, you may feel like you won’t be able to get any running done. However, the goal is not to clean the streets entirely, but to make a difference. Even a few pieces of safe trash (read: plastic and paper) can make a difference for the environment, as well as reduce your grumbling about the litter in your area.

Many of us don’t litter in the first place. Consider plogging the 2.0 version of this.

 

Waste pile and two girls running with bags doing plogging outdoors

 

According to Keep America Beautiful, 18 per cent of littered items end up in streams and waterways as pollution. We are filling oceans with eight million metric tons of plastic annually.

The calming benefits of everything from forest bathing to hanging out with your family on the beach is lessened when you are confronted with water bottles rather than nature. Environmental carelessness smacks us in the face. It’s hard to rest on a sandy beach right beside a potato chip wrapper that doesn’t belong to you. Running outside is one way to gain mental clarity, but garbage can trash our potential Zen moment. Plogging is for us, for our towns and cities, for the environment itself. It’s a win-win with less waste on the road to boot.

There is no wrong way to do it. Some people collect trash in piles and double back to put them in a garbage bag so they can run without a giant weight. Others use the waistband of their pants for collection, or even just a baggie for smaller items. Ploggers have also given themselves personal challenges, such as “I won’t stop running until I pick up 50 straws.” There are many running pants with pockets that are ideal for picking up wrappers.

It may feel like a lonely endeaver, but the Litterati app is designed to create a community that identifies, maps, and collects the world’s litter. Geotags pinpoint the pieces picked up worldwide, which may make you realize that your picking up litter is a big deal. It is also good news for those starting a running program. While your body gets used to the miles, plogging allows for breaks. Or seasoned runners can plog on their recovery days, rather than pushing themselves to the maximum every time they lace up their sneakers.

Plogging. A new word in my vocabulary, and a concept I won’t forget.

 

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