Introducing ‘plogging’, an amalgamation of jogging and the Swedish phrase ‘plocka upp’ meaning ‘pick up’. As the name suggests, you pick up rubbish while jogging.
Plogging launched in Sweden in 2016 following increased eco-concerns and visible rubbish strewn about the streets. Not only do you do your bit for the environment, but plogging burns more calories than just your average run.
According to the fitness app Lifesum, 30 minutes of jogging will burn 235 calories, while plogging burns around 288 calories.
Two Brits have brought the unique form of exercise to the UK, creating their company ‘Plogolution’.
Michelle Parks, 39, and Dermot Kavanagh, 29, met at a Be Military Fitness boot camp where Dermot is an instructor and Michelle is a member.
It was when they were running along a river bank and saw the amount of rubbish that they began to discuss how dirty it is and to see if there was anything they could do about it.
Dermot said that the chance to put the environment and fitness together was a dream come true.
For Michelle, it was an opportunity to help educate children on the effects of littering on the ecosystem and getting them active.
She said: “I’ve got two sons so I decided to pilot it with them in their schools in Kingston, London.
“Primary schools are our main focus so that kids can be environmentally smart from a young age.”
So far four schools have ongoing plogging clubs, including Robin Hood Primary School and Bedelsford school for children with learning and physical disabilities, with another five schools joining the ‘plogolution’ this year.
Littering in the UK
Littering is a massive problem in the UK with around 30 million tonnes of litter dropped every year, according to Keep Britain Tidy, a charity that is trying to eliminate waste and rubbish.
In 2016 to 2017 it cost local authorities £682 million or £29 per household to keep our streets clean.
Up to this point the school clubs have collected 326 plastic bottles, 461 cans, 126 glass bottles and 1,216 cigarette butts.
These are the usual pieces of rubbish found on the ground, but Michelle says they’ve also had everything from broken iPhones to sex toys.
What’s next for Plogolution?
Michelle and Dermot now turning their eyes beyond the capital towards the rest of the UK.
They have their first plog outside of London at Ashton-Under-Lyne, Manchester on 3 February.
Michelle said: “Our plan is to take this nationally and make picking up litter fashionable.”
While the plogs are free to take part in, there are costs involved, such as buying the equipment (litter pickers, gloves, T-shirts, recyclable bin bags etc.) so Michelle self-funded their very first plog.
However, despite the challenges she said the impact it has had is amazing.
“Getting the kids involved means that not only do they get the exercise, they can see the difference they’re making.
“One of the heads said to me that it’s looking so much cleaner around the school.
“Although we both have full-time jobs we’re so passionate about this it doesn’t feel like work.”
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