Sassy at seventy: ‘Plogging’, the rubbish way to get fit

Apr 04, 2023
Source: Getty

First, we had bloggers, then we had vloggers, and now, as I recently read, we have ploggers.

What is plogging, you ask. Well, ploggers are people who pick up rubbish as they jog. The movement started in Sweden in 2016 and has since spread across the world. Well, I’m glad I read an article explaining this because until then I’d never heard of it. But it turns out I’ve been doing it for years.

Apparently, the word comes from the Swedish plocka up (pick up) and jogga (jog). It involves taking a garbage bag and gloves and picking up rubbish as you run or jog. Now, much as I heartily applaud the idea, when I look at some of the roadside rubbish in Australia I wonder how you could possibly run while you’re trying to pick it all up.

When my husband was in the army, picking up rubbish was termed “emu bobbing”. It was usually done wearing a “giggle hat”, but as emu bobbing was usually a punishment, I doubt the bobbers got much of a laugh from it.

Plogging has a lot going for it. You get to run, or in my case, walk, plus there’s the added exercise of bending over and stretching out to grab the offending piece of garbage. You can even squat if your knees will let you. Then a little more arm exercise stuffing your garbage into the bag.

When the tides and the weather are right and I have the time, I swim at a little beach not far from my house. An essential in my beach bag is a plastic bag so I can pick up rubbish, particularly plastic as it’s so detrimental to sea life, especially turtles.  It always strikes me as incongruous that I use a plastic bag to pick up plastic, but putting wet rubbish in a paper bag? Well, you can imagine the result.

Researchers estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. It’s a horrific thought. Like a lot of my friends I was recycling all my soft plastics at the collection points at the big supermarkets, but that’s been stopped since China closed its doors to our plastic waste and REDcycle stopped accepting and recycling it as we don’t have enough recycling factories here in Oz.

When you consider that Australians, per capita, generate more single-use plastic than any other country in the world, you have to wonder why we’re not bringing in laws such as requiring all Councils to purchase recycled plastic park benches when building new parks. The aluminium ones burn your backside in summer and freeze it in winter so it would be a win-win all around. The government’s throwing billions at solar, wind, etc, so why not chuck a couple of billion into building new recycling factories.

Our grandparents used to wrap all their non-compostable scraps in newspaper to put in the rubbish bin, but a lot of people don’t buy print newspapers these days. They also used to take a basket with them when they grocery shopped, placing fruit and veg in there to be weighed at the counter. Now, I know we can’t go back to those days, but surely if we can get used to taking our own reusable bags (plastic, cloth etc) to the shops, as we’ve had to in recent years, then surely we can take our own mesh bags when purchasing fruit and veg. 

A friend once told me that I’d been recycling “since before it was fashionable” but I think, like a lot of people my age, and particularly those whose childhood held no luxuries, I grew up knowing that things were finite and “money doesn’t grow on trees”. So it’s encouraging to see so many schools these days creating programs that focus on preserving this wonderful planet of ours. Perhaps there will be generations of ploggers still to come.



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