Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Plogging- running whilst picking up trash

When I found out about Plogging, I got so excited. Finally, there is a way to combine two important things - exercise and environmental awareness. Of course it was the Scandinavians who thought of this first and it is slowly making its way to the UK. So what exactly is Plogging? The name comes from a word jogging and a Swedish ‘plocka’, meaning to pick. So it is exactly what it says on the package- you go for a run and whilst you are at it, you collect rubbish on the way. You not only get fit but you come home smug, knowing that you helped clean your local community which in my case means Peak District National Park. Genius idea if you ask me.

When I found out that this is a thing, firstly I wondered why I didn’t think of it before and secondly, where do I sign up? I have always been picking small bits of rubbish when walking. I just pop it in my rucksack and dispose of it at home. But running and collecting rubbish? Sounds like a great fun! If you are a pro runner doing your 18 mile Sunday run, you might not have the capacity to do it but for joggers like me, where time is not the goal, why not? 

                 Sadly, quite the typical sight on a side of a main road in the Peak District  

If you are local in Sheffield, you may know that the stretch of road leading from Ringinglow to Burbage is notorious for rubbish.  I have picked litter there a few years ago and sadly not much has changed since. Plastic and glass bottles, cans, fags, and even empty Prosecco bottles decorate both sides of the road. Which £?!&!& would throw something out of the window on a side of a road in the National Park? I went for a walk around there just the day before I went Plogging for the first time and the amount of rubbish that I have seen inspired me to not put it off. Plans for Sunday morning were hatched. 

It seems that you don’t really need a lot of equipment, just your running shoes and something to collect the litter with. My set up worked pretty well for me. 

                             My set up- you really don't need that much 

You need:
Gloves - Mine were gardening gloves 
Bag for the rubbish- I don’t use plastic bags so instead I used a reusable dry bag which I washed afterwards 
Rucksack (optional) - when your picking bag is full and you are planning a longer run, you can easily put the rubbish in it, which makes it a lot more comfortable

It only took a couple of minutes to settle into the rhytm of this newly discoverd 'running with a purpose'

I was dropped off close by on Sunday morning and run towards Burbage. I soon got into the swing of things. It felt like my running had a purpose for a change! I ran with the gloves on, my dry bag in one hand and rucksack on the back. I crouched down to pick up any rubbish that I saw. This didn’t slow me down at all, if anything I was doing lots of mini squats, which meant even better workout. 

There was lots of crouching and mini squatting movements which was fun and gave me a chance for a quick breather!  

The bag was filling rapidly and within 3 km I filled the bag. Of course, I got carried away and kept picking, which meant that I couldn’t fit my dry bag into my rucksack as planned and so I ended up running about 7 km with it in my hand.  So it ended up being an arm workout too! The bag was full of glass and plastic bottles, cans and random bits of plastic. I couldn’t carry anymore so I pledged to go back. The purpose of plogging I realised, is doing a bit whilst you run, rather than doing a city cleanup on your own!

                    There was so much rubbish that I sadly to had to leave some behind 

One thing which was really amazing was that I got a lot of kudos of people. A lady stopped her car and offered me a lift home so I had to explain that actually, the point of plogging is well, to run! A lot of walkers were giving me bewildered looks which were quickly followed by encouragement which was a really nice boost to keep on running.  

                               Running home with extra weight meant extra workout! 

When I got home, I sorted the rubbish out. I recycled what I could (which was a majority) with a small amount of rubbish going into the general bin. This trash is a lot better off in the incinerator than polluting the National Park. 

Honestly, this experience was so much fun that it will be going on my exercise schedule. If you live in Sheffield, I set up a Facebook page called ''Plogging- Sheffield and Peak District" so that you can join the local community of like minded people, where together we can get fit and clean up our awesome city of Sheffield and Peak District National Park! 


1 comment

  1. Great work Dom! Just wanted to say Hi, and you're not alone :-)

    Between all of us we can keep the Outdoor City beautiful! Have you heard about the GB Spring Clean? It's a huge national movement, this Saturday. We (Runners against Rubbish) and lots of other Sheffield groups are coming together for a big day of clearing up. Have a look at "Sheffield Litter Pickers" or our page (Runners Against Rubbish) on Facebook if you'd like to get involved!