It started slowly last spring. I kept seeing references to plogging, a made up word that means picking up trash while jogging. Then a couple of friends talked about how much trash they picked up on their walks during their holidays.
By the time I saw a company video about a employee who adopted a stretch of road near his house that was part of his daily walk, I was starting to understand there was a bigger idea happening here than just trash clean up.
Community clean up is not new. Scouts, companies, schools and so on often organize group clean ups. One year my son’s scout group retrieved an office chair, a computer monitor and a bicycle from the waterway near his school along with multiple, well-filled garbage bags.
Nor is the idea of linking physical activity with a community goal. After all, we have multiple rides for AIDS, sight, and MS; we have walks for cancers of all kinds, and we have other things like charity golf tournaments that link doing good with being active.
As with any new idea, there are those who don’t want to get involved. There are many, many comments on this one piece where the author indicates her complete lack of desire to plogg, but I admit I am more than a little horrified by her privilege and her class assumptions.
Still, maybe we should ask why plogg at all?
I quite like the idea myself. Where I live, we have quite beautiful trails, wild countryside, nice parks, and pretty decent roadways except for the garbage which covers the ground in all directions.
The fact that I live in a place where high winds are pretty much an every day occurrence means stuff gets around. If we all carried a small bag to collect garbage, that would make a big job easier to manage.
I often approach exercise by chunking up my activities into smaller bits. Taken all together I have a workout, and some parts don’t seem at all daunting split up in this fashion. Similarly, my gym often organizes fundraisers for non-sponsored athletes heading to competitions and every year, trainers and their clients chip in to support a family for the holidays. All of us giving what we can adds up to a big thing.
I see plogging in the same way. If everyone picks up a bit (or a lot!) of garbage, it doesn’t seem like a burden. When we do it as a group, the impact is more obvious.
We also know doing something every day outside that requires an effort is better for our health. Lots of fitness advice recommends engaging in at least a 150 minutes a week. That’s 2.5 hours. At first blush we might ask, where can I find that amount of time. If we chunk it up throughout the seven days, it becomes more achievable, realistic, and possible.
The beauty of plogging is if we fall into the camp of not seeing oneself as a gym person, a pool person, or even a running-the-trail-person, maybe joining with a friend or a group of friends to adopt a trail will help us get used to the idea of physical activity as an every day thing. Perhaps it will even lead some of us to become an environmentally aware person who does their bit for the planet.