When I found out about Plogging, I got so excited, says Sheffield blogger Dom Kolarova.
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?
If you are local in Sheffield, you may know that the stretch of road leading from Ringinglow to Burbage is notorious for rubbish. I 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. Who would throw something out of the window on the 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 saw 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. I took along: gloves - mine were gardening gloves; a bag for the rubbish - I don’t use plastic bags so instead I used a reusable dry bag which I washed afterwards; a rucksack - this is optional of course, but 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.
I was dropped off close by on Sunday morning and started my 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 an even better workout.
The bag was filling rapidly and within 3km I had already 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. This wasn’t so bad thought, as it meant 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!
One thing that was really amazing was that I got a lot of kudos from 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.
When I got home, I sorted the rubbish out. I recycled what I could (which was the 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 this community of like-minded people. Together we can get fit and clean up our awesome city of Sheffield and beyond.
Visit www.poppygoeswild.com for more blogs from Dom.