'Plogging' craze goes global as fitness
fanatics take out the trash
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[April 25, 2019]
By Philip O'Connor
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish
phenomenon of "plogging", where joggers combine their run with picking
up the trash they find in nature, is going global as both environment
and fitness fanatics benefit from the new trend.
Started in 2016 by Swede Erik Ahlstrom in the town of Are, which hosted
the recent Alpine skiing world championships, the craze is now spreading
around the world.
"The world record is actually in Mexico City, four thousand people have
been plogging in one day, but I think it's about 10 thousand people
doing it regularly in India. In India, the biggest trend for running,
it's plogging right now," Ahlstrom told Reuters at a recent plogging
event in Stockholm.
"In Swedish 'plocka' is pick, and then jog of course. It's a combination
word, it's two words put together - pick and jog," Ahlstrom explained as
he handed out trash bags to over two dozen trail runners who were
joining him for the evening.
Ahlstrom sent the ploggers on their way with a stirring pep talk about
the three million cigarette butts that are thrown away in Sweden every
day and the amount of plastic in the world's oceans.
"Most of that plastic comes originally from the land, so when we run,
let us run with purpose!" he enthused before ringing a bell to send them
on their way.
The ploggers quickly left the pathway and disappeared into the bushes
and trees to spend their evening collecting plastic and paper that they
would later dispose of in a trash can near their starting point.
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Ahlstrom said he is delighted by the interest now being shown around
the world, but he's not surprised.
"It's so easy, and plogging burns more calories than normal running
- you have to bend and squat, it's good for the legs and you get a
better body," he explains.
The Swedes are well-known for their love of nature and their
environmental conscience, with teenage climate activist Greta
Thunberg gaining world-wide fame after her school strike outside
government buildings in Stockholm created a global movement.
Trail runner Lena Lagerljung, who has been taking part in events
with Ahlstrom since he started in 2016, says that plogging has
become her contribution to that debate.
"I can't sit like Greta outside the parliament, I have to do this,"
she said with a laugh.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)
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