During his morning walk at a beach in Mamallapuram Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen picking up plastic litter, water bottles and other trash from near his resort where he hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping for informal summit talks. In a tweet shortly after, PM Modi wrote: “Plogging at a beach in Mamallapuram. It lasted for over 30 minutes.”
The activity that the Prime Minister was referring to is an international fitness trend called ‘Plogging’.
Plogging is a combination of two words: jogging and Swedish phrase for pick up, ‘plocka upp’. Started in Sweden by Erik Ahlström in 2016, plogging is an eco-friendly exercise through which people pick up trash while jogging or brisk walking as a way to clean up litter and also take care of their health.
It all began after Ahlström, who during his commute to work in Sweden, frequently encountered litter dotting the landscape. The same trash would remain on the roads for weeks at a stretch without anyone picking it up. This prompted him to pick up the trash during his commute and dispose of it properly. Soon, this became a habit. Eventually, he included the trash cleanup into his daily running and exercise routine, which is how ‘plogging’ came into existence.
Ever since the movement took shape in Sweden, it has spread globally, thanks largely to social media and word-of-mouth. Search for #Plogging on Instagram or Twitter and one can see people post before and after pictures of the area cleaned up and brag about their trash haul after plogging. Given that plogging is very accessible and easy to do, lends it a much wider appeal, which explains its growing influence globally.
Since then, the movement has been adopted and implemented across the world by fitness and environmental enthusiasts. Over the last few years, several groups have popped up across Europe, US, South America, Asia and Africa that galvanise communities to take affirmative action against plastic pollution through a positive intervention like plogging. As per Ahlström, plogging for half an hour will burn at least 288 calories on an average as compared to just 235 calories from regular jogging. The fact that plogging addresses both the health and environment aspects make people feel they are positive agents of change and that anyone can do it. To make it a little more physically challenging, some even throw in a few exercises as they fill up their trash bags.
Now, India too has jumped onto the plogging bandwagon after the Narendra Modi-led BJP government organised the Fit India Plog Run that took place pan-India on October 2, as part of the Fit India Movement launched by the Prime Minister on August 29. To this effect, PM Modi also urged citizens of the country to shun single-use plastic during his Mann Ki Baat address on September 29 while asking people to start plogging for a litter-free India.