Plogging: what is it, and where can you do it in London?
Plogging is a workout, an exercise in sustainability and a chance to reconnect with nature, plus anyone can do it. Here's why you should introduce the kids to plogging.
The Swedes are also responsible for the latest fitness-meets-sustainability-meets family friendly craze enthusing all Londoners wanting to be more eco-conscious: plogging. Getting the kids away from their screens and encouraging them to go outdoors can feel like a losing battle, which is why plogging is getting parents so excited - many children have gravitated towards the workout-meets-sustainability-activity on their own.
Plogging (also known as eco running) involves jogging, hiking or walking, while picking up litter from the city's parks or streets along the way. It originated in Sweden in 2016 (the Swedish term for it is plocka upp), and plogging is as beneficial for the health-conscious as it is for those concerned about our environment: it burns nearly 600 calories per hour and uses different muscles as you hold bags of litter, bend, squat and reach for rubbish - sometimes crawling on your belly to get it.
What's interesting about plogging is its mass appeal: it's not just for grownups but lends itself particularly well to eco-warrior kids. It's the type of activity that's really fun and rewarding (a large group can easily gather hundreds of cans and plastic bottles on a five-kilometre run or two-kilometre walk one weekend), and kids also enjoy the aftermath, which involves separating items into plastic, glass and cans and counting up the spoils. And we can't think of a better way to kick off back to school week, aka Zero Waste Week.
School groups are also organising plogs as a way to raise awareness about the plastic problem and help the environment, and plogging clubs before school hours have also started cropping up. Many parents also bring their toddlers to plogs; there are regularly two-year-olds joining in on the action and helping to tidy.
Where can I plog in London?
Plogolution UK has organised plogs all over London - including an intensive Ultra Plog which involved plogging the length of the river Thames (that's 184 miles in six days!). There have been plogs in parks from Clapham Common to Hackney, including themed plogs for Halloween and Christmas.
Not only is it free to sign up to a plog, you also get all of the requisite kit when you do: rubbish bags, gloves, litter pickers, a Plogolution T-shirt and a reusable metal water bottle. Interested schoolkids and teachers can also get in touch with Plogolution to start up a school plogging club (you can then upload all of your stats to their website). Register with Keep Britain Tidy and your local council for up-to-date information on local plogs happening near you.
I'm desperate to try it - where are the upcoming summer 2019 plogs I can join?
Plogolution sets up 5k plogging runs and 2k plogging walks to suit anyone and everyone, and there are quite a few coming up this summer (in London and beyond) that you can still register for:
- 14 July, 2019: Ludlow Park, Hounslow
- 20 July, 2019: Hampstead Heath and Ealing
- 21 July, 2019: Beckenham
- 28 July, 2019: Kingston
- 3 August, 2019: Cuckoo Park, Ealing