Every day, millions of people across Europe and the United States are making unscheduled stops during their runs to do something many others have for years have not: pick up trash.
Plogging, a Scandinavian exercise combining litter collection and jogging, has become something of a rallying call for eco-activists and runners alike. Although there have always been those who have taken to picking litter while outdoors (my dad, every Saturday morning) the trend really began picking up steam in Sweden in 2016 as the pet project of Erik Ahlström, who upon moving to Stockholm from the picturesque town of Åre, remarked that “it looked like a dump” (“det sur ju ut som en soptipp!”).
When he saw the alarming amounts of trash just everywhere, he did what many before him had not and just started picking it up. Ahlström, a lifelong environmentalist and activist wasn’t content with just grabbing the odd bottle on his daily runs. Instead, he organized joggers into groups of bag-and-glove wielding ploggers to tackle the streets of Stockholm. Soon after, with the help of social media and the #plogging rally cry, walkers, runners, and joggers from around the world began to adopt the litter collection into their regular running habits.
Plogging, from the Swedish plocka upp, is one of the most interesting and simple activities for runners to emerge in the past few years. It requires essentially nothing to start, there’s nothing to learn, and it doesn’t depend at all upon your fitness level or resolve. To plog successfully, you really only need to get outside, start walking or running in any direction and stop occasionally to pick up any trash that you find along the way.
Just like anything, there are degrees to this but most people who are starting out find that they just need a bag for the litter and maybe some gloves for some of the more unsavory items which could definitely make the experience a lot more enjoyable. Part of the beauty of plogging is just how accessible it can be; even a quick lap around the office at lunchtime can become plogging if you stop to grab a few plastic bottles while you’re at it.
For those fitness minded individuals, one of the more interesting aspects of plogging is that it does actually have some health benefit. As Tomasz Frymorgen of the BBC reports, ploggers will be “rewarded with a workout for your legs, your core (from all the burpee-like squat movements of stooping down to grab discarded cigarette boxes and drink cans), and a boost for your soul.”
Unlike other call-to-actions like reducing your carbon footprint or the Pale Blue Dot campaign, this year’s Earth Day End Plastic Pollution campaign has a very immediate and tangible return for participants. Anyone who’s been to the beach in recent memory can attest to the grotesque amounts of plastic along our coasts. Quick trips to our national parks or local forests show obvious signs of past human activity in the form of wrappers, bottles and assorted trash. What plogging does is offer a way to save the planet and see those results immediately.
So this year, we hope that you will join us as we get our kids, friends, and neighbors outside to start plogging. Quick searches on social media for #plogging and various sites like meetup can also make this a great way to meet new people and get out for that breath of fresh air you might have been thinking about. We certainly hope to see you out there!
For more information about Plogging, please check out their website or facebook group, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter or check us out on social media for the latest news and product information!