Plogging: It’s Not Just for Sweden Anymore

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Letitia L. Moffitt, Guest Blog Writer

Something funny happens to people the second they finish a bottle of their favorite beverage. All of a sudden, that container that once held a refreshing drink is instantly disgustingand must be gotten rid of immediately. Some people feel this loathing so strongly, they’ll fling these containers out the window of moving cars or simply drop them on the ground and walk away. Think about the strangeness of this. One, why is this container now suddenly a foul piece of garbage when just seconds ago it was something you were willing to drink out of? Two, why is it so imperative that you get rid of it right then and there instead of holding onto it for, like, a minute until you find trash or recycling bins? Three, what do you think happensto that container? Do you expect someone to pick it up for you? Are you three years old?

If you are three and you’re reading this, congratulations—you’re quite the advanced reader. But whoever you are, keep reading. We all suffer when people litter, but fortunately there are many things we can all do about it—especially if we also enjoy fitness.

“Plogging” is a Swedish-English term that refers to jogging, running, or walking while picking up trash. It’s the perfect activity for people who love being fit, bettering the community, and protecting the environment. It’s also a terrific activity for families and groups of friends—including running groups, such as Champaign-Urbana’s own Second Wind Running Club, which organized a club plog last September.

Because Second Wind has members all over the nation, ours was a “virtual” plog in which members could choose where they wanted to plog, be it their own neighborhood, a favorite running route, or the nearest nature preserve. Afterward members posted photos on the club website and talked about their experiences. A dozen or so runners, including the club’s Women’s Beginning Running Group, joined the virtual plog and helped clean up many miles of our community. One consistent pattern the ploggers noticed was that a great deal of the trash they picked up was beverage containers—all of which were recyclable, which means the litterers could easily have disposed of them in a more environmentally friendly way.

That said, another thing ploggers discussed was the fact that there are plenty of ways to avoid excessive beverage packaging in the first place. Reusable thermoses, coffee mugs, and water bottles are cost-effective and can keep excess packaging from ending up in landfills—or in big piles at recycling centers. Not all recyclable materials end up actually being recycled; therefore, reducing and reusing are important as well. All of these are easy ways to make sure our environment is a healthy and beautiful place for all living things.

Letitia L. Moffitt is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of three novels:Sidewalk Dancing(Atticus Books), Trace and Vibe/Sync(Cantraip Press). Her memoir, Bird People(Cantraip Press), will appear in print this spring. In her free time, Moffitt takes care of a lot of pets and runs a lot of miles.