plog

Turn Your Jog Into a Plog

Do you like to run but hate to see fast-food wrappers and empty beer cans along your favorite route? Are you an earth-conscious greenie who’s always wanted to up your personal fitness regimen?

Plogging may be what you’re looking for.

A fitness phenomenon, plogging is the simple act of picking up trash while you’re out on a run. Formalized by Swedes who were getting fit and fed up with trash in, the term is a mash-up of the Swedish “plocka upp,” which means pick up, and jogging. The activity has picked up in popularity in recent years and is on fire on social media.

It’s easy, requiring nothing more than a trash bag, gloves and your normal running attire. It’s also healthy. Besides getting your miles in, you’re squatting and stretching more. which ups the amount of calories you burn while also adding in some muscle toning. Assuming you dispose of or recycle the litter you collect in a responsible way, it’s also great for the environment.

“Plogging is brilliant because it is simple and fun, while empowering everyone to help create cleaner, greener and more beautiful communities,” said Mike Rosen, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Keep America Beautiful, in a 2018 release. “All you need is running gear and a bag for trash or recyclables, and you are not only improving your own health, but your local community too.”

Interested?

Group session —While some runners prefer to go solo, others thrive in larger packs. The same goes for ploggers. Consider making a bigger impact by recruiting a larger group of friends and colleagues to take part in a community-wide plog. Pick a route or park that needs attention and get running. You can go even bigger by turning your plog into a Great American Cleanup event. A program of Keep America Beautiful, Great American Cleanup events happen all over the country and aim to do what the title suggests. Find details and resources for staging your own plogging-focused event here.

Game the system — Those with a competitive edge may find plogging a little more fun if there’s a prize at stake. Consider organizing a plog with friends that includes prizes for who gathers the most litter in a certain time. Up the stakes by forming teams to compete against each other — in a friendly way, of course.

Paddle away Think plogging has to be kept on land? Think again. Clean waterways, riverbanks, and shorelines from a kayak, canoe or standup paddleboard– and burn calories. Don’t forget the essentials: trash bags, gloves and an extendable trash picker. Be sure to dispose of any trash or recyclables you snag in the water appropriately once back on shore. You can also check Puget Soundkeeper for organized events. 

Cash in — A handful of states around the nation have bottle bills that require a small deposit — usually on aluminum cans and bottles — at purchase. Bring the cans and bottles back to the store, get your money back. Plogging can be a great way to collect valuable recyclables and turn your workout into something a little more lucrative. One Michigan man who’s been plogging since before it was cool has made more than $7,200. Unfortunately for Washingtonians, there’s no deposit in the Evergreen State. But don’t get discouraged: Next time you cross the border into Oregon, go for a plog, where cans and bottles can be redeemed for 10 cents apiece.

Jon Bell

Jon Bell writes about the outdoors, fitness, health, and a range of other topics from his home in Lake Oswego, OR. He is also the author of "On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon's Perilous Peak."