Chennai

What is plogging? All you want to know

As a term, plogging is still recherche in Chennai, remaining largely unknown beyond the running community. So, first things first — plogging is about runners picking up trash along the way, or after a run, and disposing of it responsibly.

There are however signs that plogging will not remain a niche activity restricted to the running groups. A few recent clean-ups organised by Greater Chennai Corporation have been centred around plogging. From here, it is easy to forsee a future where plogging is adopted at the neighbourhood level, with local residents organising plogs in their areas.

In this edition of Downtown Cares, two runners who are at the coalface of what can be called a slowly-growing plogging movement, Satheesh Tandle and Suresh Bharathan, throw some light on the essential aspects of plogging. Satheesh is a key member of a plogging community within the running group Dream Runners; and Suresh was part of the race management team for this year’s edition of this group’s annual half-marathon event (held last month) that seemed to have plogging intergrated into it.

Obviously, plogging has two purposes – running and picking trash on the way, and disposing of it responsibly. Which is the primary purpose? Can ploggers be really serious runners? Can they reconcile a good timing with a time-consuming cause?

Satheesh: “We are also serious runners who value our Personal Bests. We choose the running events where we want to plog, and the events we just want to focus on improving our timing. It depends on whether we are ready to plog at a given point of time. Plogging makes huge demands on one’s body. There is bending and squatting while one plogs – so, as a fitness activity, it can be more effective than just-running. More often than not, runners would throw bottles with some water still left in it, and ploggers would ensure this water in poured around the plants in the median before the bottle goes into their bag. Plogging through a 10-k run may take 90 minutes to two hours. And plogging through a half-marathon can take three to four hours.

Besides the basic act of cleaning up, is there a message from plogging?

Satheesh: Our aim is to tell the world “littering is not acceptable”. By picking up somebody else’s trash, we seek to instil a sense of guilt in them, only to ensure that they get more responsible with the waste they generate. It starts with the running community. So, with every successive run, we expect lesser litter from the non-plogging runners. So, the lighter the plogger’s bag gets with every successive run, the more successful the initiative is getting to be.

Can plogging have a role within the larger framework of waste management in a metro?

Suresh: Plogging is a great tool to spread awareness about waste management. It’s encouraging that the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) sees value in it. It has already conducted a few plogging events that involved clean-ups around Elliots Beach and the Porur lake. When the Corporation organised a plogging event at Elliots Beach on July 14, it sent out an invite to our group and some of our members took part in it. Earlier, before the Corporation started this initiative, we were cut off, and doing our work in isolation. As we started interacting with Corporation officials, our engagement with civic issues has increased.

Is there something called a plogging kit?

Satheesh: There aren’t bags or gloves made specifically for plogging. However, a plogging bag should have a long strap, so that it can be comfortably worn around the runner’s neck and does not interfere with the running. Of course, a plogger should wear protective gloves, as should anyone handling any kind of waste. Pick-up sticks can be used to gather waste. During this year’s half-marathon, our ploggers used pick-up sticks, and we noticed some of them facing some difficult in picking up the trash in this manner, as the pick-up stick sometimes would not cooperate with them.

What is plogging? All you want to know

What kind of waste is collected during plogging?

Satheesh: It’s largely plastic bottles thrown by other runners. We however don't restrict ourselves to collecting the trash thrown by fellow-runners, but also collect the other trash we find on the way. We mostly collect only plastic trash, and this includes any kind of plastic items. We don't collect biodegradable waste.

Do ploggers routinely plog while they go on group runs along with fellow-members of a running club?

During regular runs, it is usually not planned. We may not even be carrying our reusable plogging bag, but we do collect the trash on the way.

Can plogging be adopted at the neighbourhood level, with local residents engaging in it to keep fit as well as keep their immediate environment clean?

Suresh: Whenever our running group has done any clean-up at the Elliots beach, we always find a few passersby joining in. So, with greater awareness, plogging will receive critical mass, and will be a given at runs involving just residents of a neighbourhood or a gated community.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 11:36:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/what-is-plogging-all-you-want-to-know/article29023583.ece

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