Maintaining Sustaining

Plogging: The Eco-Friendly Fitness Trend

Plogging is the Scandinavian secret to building strength whilst helping the planet: running and picking up plastic as you go! The craze has spread across social media and groups have sprung up around the world. Let’s delve into the health and environmental benefits of plogging and how you can get involved.

The beginnings

Sweden is frequently branded as the most sustainable country in the world due to its renewable energy resources, low carbon dioxide emissions, and eco-consciousness in social, educational, and institutional settings. Swedes often take the number one spot when it comes to living a healthy and balanced lifestyle too; from work breaks and time with friends to high-quality sleep and good nutrition, they emphasize the importance of self-care. And so, it’s no surprise that this eco-friendly fitness trend has its roots there.

Back in 2016, climate-conscious joggers began to collect litter on their runs. As collections grew, groups emerged, and runners set to the streets armed with recyclable bags to fill. Before too long the habit became “logging,” a term coined by avid skier and runner Erik Ahlstrom from the English word “jogging” and the Swedish phrase “plocka upp,” which translates to “picking up.” The trend gained more momentum and ploggers are now seen regularly across the country.

A Growing Trend

After using social media to organize and promote plogging events nationally, the craze grabbed global attention and formed a substantial online following. If you search the hashtag “plogging” on Instagram, you’ll find more than 200,000 posts of waistbands stuffed with plastic bottles and backpacks bursting with discarded packets. Insta-ploggers are a varied bunch and you can find both a personal and large-scale accounts. For example, Maria Sandberg from the account @ploggingmum shares pictures of her family litter-picking ventures around Uppsala, Sweden. Whereas, @goplogging is an online global plogging network and share pictures from around the world. It seems that the online community is part of the joy of the sport, and supporters use it to connect, encourage, promote and publicize the activity.

The rise online reflects the growing amount of ploggers internationally. Ripu Daman Berli started the group Ploggers of India and has arranged over 500 street-cleaning events, Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria formed the Plogging Club OAU, and in the US “TrashDash” runs regular national plogging events. There are now plogging groups in nearly every country around the world, from Thailand to England.

The Environmental Benefits

By now you know the drill: plastic is bad for the planet. Litter picking whilst you run can help reduce plastic pollution by keeping it away from wildlife and out of the oceans. As a consequence of keeping animals safe, you create a cleaner and prettier environment to run through. It also saves social costs by keeping the streets cleaner and freeing up government money to be spent on other more necessary causes. It’s a win-win situation all around!

The Health Benefits

The environmental benefits might be obvious, but the health advantages are a little more hidden if you’ve never considered litter-picking a legitimate workout before. However, plogging is simply running with a few extra moves involved! And there’s no denying a daily jog is good for your body, so just think how much better it could be when combined with squatting, stretching, and stooping too. This wide range of muscle movement patterns and the added weight of your bag (depending on how much litter you’ve collected of course) can add new elements to your usual run. Not to mention, plogging can provide you that extra push when motivation is lacking: if your own health won’t get you up and going, maybe the health of the planet and the cleanliness of your local community will instead.

How to get involved

Anyone can get involved with plogging, from routine runners to complete beginners. Kids make perfect ploggers too, especially when it’s made into a competition or litter is treated as treasure they have to hunt for. All you need are gloves (preferably reusable ones), a recyclable bag, and hand sanitizer. You can go alone or search the web for a local plogging group. If running really isn’t your thing, you could even go on a plog (plogging walk) or pike (plogging hike) instead.

-Heather Grant

Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

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