It is the latest of many feelgood lifestyle trends to come out of the Scandinavian countries and rapidly spreading to other countries across the world. If you liked hygge, lagom, and lykke, we bet you will love “plogging”. Plogging, a contraction of the Swedish term plocka upp meaning “pick up”, and “jogging”, is the word used to describe an activity started at our neighbours in 2016 and gaining popularity with the growing concern for environmental pollution. The practice is rather simple, encourage participants to pick up litter while jogging.
This new workout trend aims at keeping you in-shape while protecting the planet at the same time, no less. Iceland has already made plogging its new national sport, as reflected in the dedicated Facebook group called Plokk á Íslandi, where more than 4.300 members share photos of their plogging sessions and the trash they have been collecting. Participants can be seen for instance removing shoreline litter, sometimes with friends, sometimes with family and kids. Driven by their passion for nature and love for the island, you can see on their faces the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Their infectious energy and positive experiences are truly inspiring for all! Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the President of Iceland himself, was seen trying his hand at plogging around the Presidential Residence at Bessastaðir, last March. The plogging craze is just beginning!
About time we took action!
What may seem small at first glance could turn into a significant positive impact on everyday pollution, given the increasing number of joggers and variety of social events hosted around running.
Plastic bottles, aluminium cans, paper, glass, garbage can be seen everywhere, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Their harm is well-known: whales and seabirds mistaking plastic for food, turtles getting tangled in trash, fish species being poisoned with cigarette butts, not to mention the Great Pacific garbage patch, discovered in 1997, where nearly 80.000 tons of plastics and marine debris are accumulating. Plastic can also inflict severe damage on the terrestrial wildlife, with species getting stuck in cans and sustaining all kinds of life-threatening injuries.
A trashed world is a tragedy for us in every way, but we do have the power to make things better, by joining forces to protect these spectacular landscapes for future generations, and local biodiversity. And simply to make our community a cleaner place to live in.
© Tómas Nói Emilsson, Plokk á Íslandi
Changes in environmental behaviours
Anything that takes people out in nature, creating a vibrant connection between them and their surroundings can only have positive effects, although plogging cannot sort out the root of the problem by itself.
The main challenge is rather to reduce plastic consumption. According to the American Plastic Oceans Foundation, up to 90% of the world’s plastics are not being recycled, sending out more than 8 million tons of plastic items into our oceans every year. Considering that plastics can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills, and 450 years or more for plastic bottles, it is easy to draw conclusions.
This requires changes in lifestyle and a shift to more responsible consumption habits in everyday life, including such alternatives as reusable bags, reusable bottles and thermos cup for beverages instead of single-use paper cups - that contain plastic by the way. Likewise, say no to disposable straws and cutlery, avoid unnecessary packaging by purchasing food from bulk bins… Every action, big or small, makes a difference!
A treat for your body and the environment
Besides the environmental dimension, it adds to the classical running, it turns out plogging comes with some great health benefits. It introduces additional exercises to your average jog, from squats to bends and changes of rhythm, ensuring an efficient workout for the muscles. But it is mainly a simple and entertaining way to preserve the environment! It is also a fun way to keep all the family active, while encouraging kids to develop environmentally-friendly values and behaviours. Of all the fitness crazes popping up every year, plogging might be exactly the one we needed and here is to hope it will be sustained over many years. Until we don’t need it anymore?
On your next jog, put on your running gear, grab some gloves and a bin bag, and pick up litter while you are at it! Or perhaps you have been plogging all this time without knowing? We, at Hey Iceland, are up for a plogging run anytime, to enjoy together the feeling of getting fit while supporting a worthy cause! Join us!
© Kristín Hávarðsdóttir, Plokk á Íslandi