YOUR NEW LIFESTYLE TREND: PLOGGING
Maybe it's the outdoorsy lifestyle, the healthy food, or the clean lines of their homes and the inclusivity of their societal values, but there’s something that really grabs the imagination about the Scandinavian way of life at the moment. We’ve had hygge and kos (cosy contentment), lagom (everything in moderation), fika (going for coffee and cake with friends) and err, päntsdrunk (exactly as it sounds) – the latest Scandi trend is plogging, and this one ticks all the boxes.
Plogging, literally jogging and ‘plocka upp’ – picking litter – is quite simply cleaning up while you exercise. Coined by Swedish native Erik Ahlström, who created the website www.plogga.se, all you need is a pair of gloves and a recyclable bag. As Laura Lindberg, who documents her efforts on Instagram as @dogplog_hoboken puts it, plogging is, "more satisfying than cursing the individual that left it there"!
The grassroots movement has been gaining traction mostly via social media. However 18-year-old Felix Hamilton, who lives in London and Sweden and runs the Instagram @goplogging and the website with his brother Hugo, picked up the idea straight from the streets of Stockholm. He says, “When I was at school in Sweden I noticed how clean the streets were and how joggers, even mums with strollers and old couples, would come out with a bag and pick up rubbish. In London no-one really seemed to care about litter: drivers toss out fast-food containers, cabbies urinate into bottles and leave them on the pavement – it seemed the expectation was that someone else would pick up behind them.”
Felix decided to try and reverse the effect by getting friends and family involved and soon had the beginnings of a local movement: “Plogging empowered me not to feel frustrated about litter; there was something I could immediately do about it,” says Caroline Nathanson. Leo Orosa adds, “Whether you plog one day a week or a few days a month, it becomes an extra motivation to get outside and go running.”
Felix is determined to go beyond motivating the local community, aiming to turn it into a true global movement, and recently did some plogging at Vero Beach in Florida, USA. He was initially worried about whether the concept would travel, saying “Sweden is a society with strong ideas about collectivism so it reinforces the concept. But plogging also taps into things like self reliance and individual responsibility which are American concepts.” The experiment was successful there too, and having conquered two cities Felix is now well and asking other ploggers to send videos and images of their exploits all over the world. He has plans to expand his reach even further by marshalling the help of local government and corporate social outreach and responsibility programmes.
It seems like an idea whose time has come, with over 30,000 hashtags on Instagram and a number of western news outlets like the BBC, Washington Post, Guardian and HuffPo taking notice the trend. In fact, what’s not to like? It gets you to famntag natur (embrace nature), and it’s good for your body: running plus squats and stretches at irregular intervals as you pick up rubbish is pretty much where it’s at for general fitness. It’s good for the earth, helping to appropriately dispose of plastic waste, and for your local environment, because clean neighbourhoods are known to make people happier. Lastly it’s good for the soul – as Felix puts it, “Picking up litter is good for the planet's health. Running is good for your health. Also it’s really good fun: you meet like-minded people and see immediately the good you have done.” Grab a bag and join in.