Planet Care

240: Plogging


Could jogging be more than just a way of keeping fit?

In 2016, after moving to Stockholm from a small ski-community in northern Sweden, Erik Ahlström became frustrated with the amount of litter he saw while riding his bike to work every day. The same debris could remain in the road for several weeks without anyone picking it up, so Erik started picking it up.

It felt good in his heart to clean up even a small place. Searching for a word to describe what he was doing, Erik combined the Swedish word: plocka upp (pick up) with jogging and came up with “plogging”. Before long other people were joining Ahlström, and plogging runs, with groups of couple coming together to run and pick up trash, became official events across Sweden.

The official on-line Plogga movement, the Swedish eco-fitness craze was born with 1 million hits on social media with international plogging groups starting up in at least 50 countries and hundreds of locations worldwide. This included a catchphrase Pick’n Jog – Be a hero”

While most of the initial growth was in Europe, plogging groups can now be found as far away as Ecuador and Thailand, a global reach that has far exceeded the initial expectations of the movement’s founder. In Sweden alone there are 200 events to date. One idea has suggested making “plogging” an Olympic Sport.
In the early 2000s most Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation buses had a poster on the back with a portrait of Narendra Modi (who was then the chief minister of Gujarat) and slogan “Clean Gujarat”, while inside each bus was a notice that said “Throw Rubbish Outside”. Since Modi became Prime Minister of India, many public places in India (railway stations for example) have become much tidier and cleaner.

In October 2019 Prime Minister Modi, in Mamallapuram, for an informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, released a three-minute video on Twitter in which he was seen plogging and urged the people to follow suit.

In February 2018, Marie Couderc and Nil Hoppenot, in their thirties left Portugal in February 2018 and arrived in Istanbul in March 2020. They walked 10,000 km, crossed 19 countries in southern Europe, still using small paths. In their backpacks which weighed on average 20kg, Marie and Nil always had a place for the environment. They collected up to 1kg of waste found along the way that they selectively disposed of when they could. It was the effort they wanted to make for the planet. They wanted to show that everyone on their big or small hikes can do the same.

Others prefer to walk instead of jogging.
In November 2018, French youtubers Mcfly and Carlito organized and filmed CleanWalk, picking up plastic while going for walks in the streets of Paris. Viewed almost 3 million times, it had a knock-on effect. In March 2019, Elsa Tran a second year student at the Doctrine high school in Strasbourg, organised a GreenWalk around her French city. On December 15, 2020 a hundred “orange vests” responded and a dozen Belgian personalities participated in the first Greenwalk in Belgium. Armed with litter picker tongs and trash bags provided by Bruxelles-Propreté, the 150 participants traveled 1.7 km and collected 550 kilos of waste.

What you can do: Organise a plogging event or Greenwalk near you.

Discover Solution 241: Marine Permaculture Arrays

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