Plogging: what it is, how to practice it, and benefits

In recent times, two new trends have significantly affected people's lives: environmental protection and the rediscovery of outdoor life. These two trends are very closely linked and have often given rise to initiatives and activities with the aim of benefiting both people and our planet. This is how plogging and eco-trekking have taken hold. You can discover more about these two young, healthy, and environmentally positive activities by continuing to read this article.

What is plogging?

Plogging is an activity that consists of collecting litter while running and owes its name to the combination of the English word “jogging” with the Swedish word “plocka upp”, which means literally 'to collect'.
Plogging can be practiced by everyone since it requires no special skills or equipment, and it is an activity that can be done either alone or in a group.

The purpose of this endeavor is to keep the environment clean by taking advantage of time usually spent on outdoor physical activity. Basically, plogging proposes to optimize time spent running in order to do something positive for the planet.

Where did plogging originate?

Plogging has very recent origins, in fact it was conceived in 2016 by Swedish athlete Erik Ahlström! Tired of seeing so much litter in the city of Stockholm, Ahlström decided to start cleaning up streets and parks with his group of friends during their daily runs and training.

Starting in Sweden, the activity of plogging quickly spread to the rest of the world, driven by the growing importance of environmental sustainability and personal well-being issues.

Today, plogging is considered a true discipline, so much so that the first edition of the World Plogging Championships was held in Italy from the 1st - 3rd of October 2021, where almost 800 kg of waste was collected.


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Benefits of plogging

Plogging is a well-rounded activity that provides both physical and psychological benefits, not to mention the important environmental aspect. Among the benefits of plogging, it is impossible overlook the following:

Plogging helps you lose weight

Just like jogging, plogging involves a significant calorie expenditure and thus helps you to lose weight. In addition, this activity is very rhythmic and involves the plogger alternating stretches of running with small breaks, keeping the heart exercised and stimulating the heart rate.

Plogging trains different movements than simple jogging

Jogging mainly trains the leg muscles and always makes you perform the same movements, whereas plogging involves the plogger bending over to pick up litter, thus performing squats and lunges. These movements are not typical for traditional running and train the leg muscles that are usually not stimulated much, as well as the buttocks, shoulders, and arms.

Plogging is good for the environment

The act of litter collecting is very simple, but at the same time it is very important because it keeps the environment clean and prevents soil and water pollution, which can have serious consequences for animals, plants, and human beings.

Plogging is a stress reliever

Just like walking, which we talked about in the article 'Walking is good for you: the benefits to the body and mind', plogging also reduces anxiety and stress because the body releases endorphins, known as 'happy hormones', during physical activity. Plogging is also associated with doing a good deed, so it helps to increase self-esteem and self-confidence.


Plogging and Eco trekking


Plogging in the world

From 2016, plogging started to go beyond the borders of Sweden, driven largely by social media dotted with people sharing photos showing the collected litter after their runs.

Soon, groups, associations, and organizations sprang up in over 40 countries, with the aim of promoting this activity through events, social and other media. The Plogging World website provides a list of the main initiatives related to plogging: there are many, and on all continents.

Plogging has also attracted the attention of some companies, which have started to organize collective waste collection activities combined with jogging. In some cases, local administrations have also become promoters of the movement, one of the most significant examples being the city of Seoul, whose mayor took part in the 'Making a Clean Seoul, Hej Plogging' event, organized to clean up the city's streets.

Where and how to plog: equipment needed

There are no special physical requirements for plogging, you just need to be fit enough to run, even at a slow pace. With regard to equipment, the only things you need to have are rubbish bags and a pair of work gloves, preferably cut-proof, as you may have to pick up cans, pieces of glass or other sharp waste. You can wear the same clothing as for jogging.

The activity of plogging can be carried out in any location, because, unfortunately, litter can be found everywhere, from the city park to the mountains, and even on the beach. It is important to remember to separate the rubbish at the end of the activity and to dispose of each type of waste in the correct bin following the waste separation.

Plogging can be done either alone or in a group, but sharing this activity with others is certainly more fun and offers the possibility of competing to see who can collect more litter.

Those who prefer walking to running can try eco-trekking, an activity that combines trekking and waste collection and follows the same philosophy as plogging. Similarly, other variants of this activity have also developed, such as collecting waste while cycling or using roller skates.

Whichever way you decide to collect waste, what counts is the action you are taking, which is quite easy but also very important.


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