1. Tell us about yourself! How did you first become involved with plogging, and what inspired you to start?
My first official plog was actually before the word existed (the word was invented by the Swedes in 2016). In 2011 I was running to the train station when I noticed all the trash in the hedgerow. It was at that moment that I asked myself the question: "If I don't pick it up, then who will?" - it was on a very quiet country lane. So I decided at that moment to make a change. I bent down and picked up a handful of trash. I carried it to the train station and before I put it in the bin, I took a photo and made a tweet. So Sept 2011 was my first official plog. I continued to do it a few times a week, but in 2019 I made a deeper commitment to myself. To do it on every activity I load up onto Strava. And to be more visible about it to perhaps try and inspire others.
2. Do you know how much trash you pick on on an annual basis? Or any interesting stats you have on hand.
I am European so I will give the answer in metric units haha I know I pick up well over 100kgs per month, but this year I have started counting bags and it looks like i will collect between 35,000 and 40,000 liters of trash! Not bad for just a single person!!!3. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own plogging routine, especially regarding safety and proper technique? Are there any specific tools or equipment new ploggers would need?
The 1st rule of plogging is.. there are no rules!! Do it in a way that works best for you.
To give some ideas, I use a single glove (the glove hand is my picky trash hand and the other hand can then be my picky nose hand! haha). I like to set a clear boundary between my own plogging and running to make sure I don't impact my training. But the best advice for new ploggers is.. start small! Just a single piece of trash suddenly turns your activity into something that isn't just good for you but it is now good for us, and good for the planet, keeping it small means that it is something you can do without stress. To keep on doing it is even more important than doing it for a few times and then stopping becuase it has become a chore!4. How do you think the plogging movement has evolved in recent years, and what do you envision for its future?
I started in 2011, but at that time I didn't have a work to describe it.
When the Swedes came up with the word in 2016, we suddenly had a word to unite us all as a community. Now I connect with people around the world through the word of plogging. We now also have a World Championships! (it is only small, but that shows how popular it now is) - did i mention I came 2nd last year? hahahahah
As for the future.. I only see it growing in popularity. With more and more events popping up. I would love to see eco tourism adopting it.. when you visit the city, why not join a group plog. A way of respecting the places you are visiting as well as taking in the sights at a relaxed pace! (in my monthly group plog, I only cover 5km in an hour because we are soaking in the sights, stopping for selfies and talking to other people!)5. In your opinion, what are some of the key benefits that plogging can offer to both individuals and communities as a whole?
Ok, the benefits are obvious and research has shown that trash attracts trash (if a piece of trash is on the ground then other trash soon appears next to it).
But outside of the benefits of plogging for the environment I will mention the personal benefit.. it has made me a better runner. My runs are more dynamic with built in stretches! but more importantly, it keeps my easy runs.. easy. As runners we try to run toooo fast too much of the time. Plogging keeps my speed slower for the easy run days6. Can you share any personal experiences or anecdotes that highlight the positive impact of plogging?
I will give you something that isn't relating to trash! A couple of years ago I spotted a pillowcase in the bushes while plogging. I nervously looked into the pillowcase (you do find some weird stuff!).. it was a security box that had been broken open. Inside it were photos, letters and memories. So I carried it home (it was damn heavy! haha). It was clearly stolen and thrown out of a car after all the valuables were removed. When I got home I looked deeper and from some bank statements could figure out the owner. I called them up. It belonged to a 90+ year old woman who have been victim to a crime; two people pretended to be home help and while one distracted her, the other robbed her. After the call I contacted the police and they brought it around to her (I thought a policeman would be less stressful than another stranger at the door - my wife actually spoke to her on the phone as I think my deep voice was also upsetting her).
I couldn't undo the crime and trauma, but my wife and I think that we did perhaps help restore a bit of faith for her in people.. as well as reuniting her with some precious memories that were still in that security box.
Yes, I pick up trash which I do to help us have a future, but sometimes you find something to help make a more immediate impact.7. Anything else we should know?
Picking up the trash makes an impact, but telling people what you are doing (through social media etc) makes an even bigger impact. You are not doing it to say "look at me, i'm cool!".. no, it is to show how easy it is to do and maybe you will inspire others.