Many times, we tend to think of environmentalism or being eco-friendly as being a large-scale issue: it’s an issue of power plants, landfills, emissions, etc. Understandably, large-scale thinking like this is important, but the downside is that it can make our individual actions seem small: in other words, we wonder what impact the recycling of a few aluminum cans will really have, or why it matters if one person buys a sustainably-produced item. Rather than get caught up in the malaise and helplessness of large-scale problems, there are many ways that people can have an immediate and visually obvious impact on their local environment. Thanks to today’s word plogging, this impact can also occur while you’re positively impacting your own health.
Originating (as far as can be told) in an Instagram post in October of 2016 made by retailer Scandinavian Outdoor, the term plogging is a portmanteau that originated from the combination of the traditional physical activity of jogging with the Swedish term for “picking up (litter)”, plocka upp. With the majority of Swedes also having a certain level of English language proficiency from schooling and social media exposure, it is unclear if there was any lag-time at all from the overall introduction of the term and its introduction into English.
Growing initially from the decades-old initiative to keep recreational areas clean and free of trash, the idea gained traction with environmentally-conscious outdoor/exercise enthusiasts who were frustrated at seeing garbage carelessly tossed into a wooded area or at the side of a path, instead of being disposed of properly.
In practice, the idea is simple. If you see some trash that has been improperly discarded on your typical jogging route, just pick it up and dispose of it properly. On the other hand, if you’re more into the idea, it is suggested that you bring along a bag for the trash as well as a pair of gloves to make the ordeal a little less, well, grimy. Still, for those who are hardcore about the idea, there are exercise apps, such as Lifesum, which allow you to track your plogging activities, as well as social media groups dedicated to plogging certain specific areas.
Interestingly enough, though one of the base premises of the idea is helping to clean up litter, it seems that, according to numbers from Lifesum, plogging also happens to be very good exercise: whereas regular jogging is mostly a workout for the legs, varying the exercise by adding plogging also incorporates the core muscles, making for a more well-rounded working. Comparatively, for an average person, half an hour of jogging alone will burn approximately 235 calories – which is a pretty good number – but, by adding the plogging aspect to your current jog, that number could be raised to approximately 288 calories, or 22% more calories burned.
Depending on your point of view, plogging is either the new hybrid of multitasking exercise and environmentalism or it can just be considered a repackaging of the quote, “Take only memories, leave only footprints”, uttered by Chief Seattle of the Native American Pacific Northwest Duwamish tribe. Either way, it’s a new and innovative way to clean up the environment, improve your exercise regimen, and see the impact of your individual actions.