Erik Ahlström started the sport of plogging in Stockholm, Sweden. It began when he created a website called Plogga to gather people together and organize volunteers to participate in the sport. Since his initiative began in 2016, the concept of plogging has spread internationally, with hundreds of thousands of people participating in this green activity.
Individual Effort Counts
What is referred to as a fitness trend with a social consciousness has become almost an obsession for many individuals. David Sedaris is one individual who has turned this hobby into a lifestyle. This American-born resident of West Sussex is 61 years old. He walks almost one thousand steps for each year of his life every day while cleaning up his neighborhood! It takes David around nine hours to walk 60,000 steps while hauling large bags of garbage. His hobby has helped him to lose weight while cleaning up his neighborhood. David’s efforts have also gotten him a garbage truck named in his honor.
Another David who has dedicated hours of his free time to picking up trash is David Roosa, from Block Island, Rhode Island. He has been picking up trash around the island since 1993, but he does it at a pace that is slower than running. Usually, he combines picking up trash with walking his dogs on the beach. As of 2018, he had catalogued shocking amounts of pollution: a total of 12,500 pounds of debris that included 57 tires, 7,000 aluminum cans, 8,500 plastic bottles, 2,000 glass bottles, thousands of plastic bags and balloons as well as 200 pounds of clothes.
Although David Roosa picks up trash on the island almost every day, there is always more. Unfortunately, with the rise in the human population and our need for instant gratification has come more trash than we could possibly imagine or handle. What humans see as an essential to-go cup of coffee or a single-use bag of chips to snack on for a few minutes turns into trash that takes thousands of years to decompose. Unfortunately, many humans have adopted the attitude of “this is just one straw.” However, if you multiply this by the seven billion people on Earth, we have a big problem.
Plogging, Plalking, Pliking
The best way to fix this problem in the long run is to stop using single-use plastic altogether. Unfortunately, this is up to big corporations as much as the everyday consumer. An individual can only do so much to prevent plastic pollution from getting out of hand. Even if one stops using plastic altogether, which is difficult but not impossible, there is still so much of it out in the world. This is where plogging comes into play. Its goal is to make more of your run, walk, or hike by combining it with picking up trash.
While the term plogging was initially defined as combining trash pick-up with jogging, there is also plalking and pliking. These both combine cleaning up the streets with walking and hiking. Beyond the environmental benefits of this activity, adding the extra movements associated with picking up rubbish actually has many health benefits. According to Lifesum, a Swedish-based fitness app, just half an hour of plogging will burn an extra 53 calories compared to jogging alone! The extra movements involved in bending down, picking things up, and carrying a weighty load makes for a much better workout.
11,000 kg of Waste from the Isolated Mountain
As this new activity has spread around the world, many groups have popped up to turn plogging into a social activity. Just as humans can choose to waste just one piece of plastic, they can also decide to pick just one piece of litter up and dispose of it correctly. If all seven billion of us could incorporate this habit into our daily routine, imagine what a difference we could make! Luckily, there are thousands of people around the globe who don’t need to imagine. They do this regularly and see a difference on their streets.
Many travelers find themselves participating in trash pickup on an international scale. Nothing can ruin a nice hike or a swim in a remote waterfall like trash. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more common to find single-use plastic everywhere we go. Even the least expected places in the world, such as Mount Everest, are victims of human pollution. In June 2019 a cleanup crew hauled 24,000 pounds (almost 11,000 kg) of waste from this isolated mountain. Perhaps plogging can expand to mountain climbing and people can bag some trash while mountaineering down a cliff!
Come Together and Contribute!
Unfortunately for the planet, the statistics are pretty grim. Scientists claim that by 2050 there will be more pieces of plastic than fish in the ocean. Traces of plastic have also been found in the bacteria that lives at the most extreme depths of the ocean and even in human DNA. While the situation may seem hopeless at times, the world is always changing. As humans become more aware of their negative impact on the planet, many individuals are starting to change their dangerous habits.
Humans are uniting more than ever to make a difference on our shared planet. Adding activities such as plogging, plalking, and pliking to our routines can make a difference. One single human doing one simple action may seem meaningless… But if we all come together and contribute, we can change the world.
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