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Give Plogging A Go


Recently, I was lucky enough to visit the Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street Exhibition at The Design Museum in South Kensington. For the most part it was what I expected, the development of trainers as both fashion items and useful training tools. The first ever Blue Ribbon (later to become Nike) prototype was on display looking old and battered, as well as the current Carbon Vaporfly Next% offering from the ubiquitous brand. The comparisons were amazing, and really showcased how far we’ve come in terms of sportswear development in the last few decades. They also had one of Shaquille O’Neal’s trainers, which are size 23 just in case you were wondering – they look like they could house a small family of guinea pigs. 

Those things were all very impressive, but the part of the exhibition that surprised me the most was the final room. It focussed totally on sustainability and highlighted the huge problems the industry has with waste. Given that trainer soles are lasting in landfills for up to one thousand years, the exhibition ends with a look to a more sustainable future through upcycling and repair, circular design and a more careful consideration of materials. There are several brands investing significant money into developing plant-based sneakers and learning more about the ‘repair, remake, create’ philosophy thats sweeping the fashion scene. All very encouraging.

It made me look at how I could make my running more sustainable. I ran the ASICS 10km race on Sunday and was surprised by how few people took the ‘Green Team’ option, foregoing their race t-shirt in order to be more environmentally friendly. People run races to get their t-shirt and medal at the end, and to have that sense of achievement. Paper cups during races are a better alternative to plastic ones and a lot of large race companies are certainly doing their bit. But, is that enough? It usually isn't.

I decided to look up ways to be more environmentally friendly as a runner online and came across a new running craze – plogging. Plogging is a combination of jogging with picking up litter (merging the Swedish verbs plocka upp (pick up) and jogga (jog) gives the new Swedish verb plogga, from which the word plogging derives). It started as an organised activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution. An estimated 2,000,000 people Plog daily in 100 countries and some plogging events have attracted over 3,000,000 participants.

So, I tried it. I am lucky enough to live near Epping Forest, which is a haven for runners but also picnic-goers and groups of teenagers looking for somewhere to hide from their parents and families. At the weekend it’s a hive of activity and provides welcome respite from the busy city. Sadly, some of the people who enjoy the forest don’t treat it with the respect it deserves and leave their litter behind. It happens on a regular basis, and I’ve seen many of the Epping Forest Wardens with bags full of other people’s rubbish. This is perfect plogging fodder, I thought!

 

I took a plastic bag with me and picked up as much as I could along the way, I came back with a whole bag of litter after just 5km of running. It’s not a way to get a personal best, that’s for sure, but it does add quite a bit of squatting – let’s call it a cardio and strength workout? Feeling as though I’d done something positive for the environment whilst enjoying my hobby was a real endorphin boost, and I’ll certainly do it again. 

 

Go on, give plogging a go.

This blog post was contributed by Beth Jones, who works for This Is London Magazine. They are currently publishing online at www.til.com as well as through their social channels; 

Instagram: @thisislondonmag

Twitter: @thisislondonmag 


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