This week Geraldine Carton is joined by Roz Purcell to try "plogging", the Scandinavian fitness trend embraced by eco-conscious fitness enthusiasts the world over.
Look up the #plogging hashtag on Instagram and you’ll find nearly 30,000 posts about the fitness craze that’s quite literally transforming the world we live in.
Wielding tote bags and thumbs-up, "ploggers” can be seen trotting around their local areas, hellbent on cleaning up beaches, parks, and pathways, and getting fit as they go.
Of course, like anything good and pure in this world, this concept was created by the Scandinavians. The word itself combines the English “jogging” with the Swedish phrase "plocka uppa" (which means “picking up”), and together, you get “plogging”.
Plogging with Roz Purcell
It was a rep from a PR company who informed me about the trend; she had seen that we were celebrating Sustainability Month here at IMAGE.ie and thought plogging might be a fun activity to try for the month that's in it. When I said yes, she suggested that Roz Purcell might join me.
Roz Purcell? As in, the celebrity chef, model and fitness mogul Roz Purcell? Surely she wouldn’t be interested in spending an afternoon running around picking up rubbish?
It turns out that Roz is actually a Team Green ambassador, leading the new campaign launched by Repak which encourages the people of Ireland to improve their recycling efforts. What's more, Roz has actually been plogging for years; she just didn’t realise there was an actual name for it until recently.
For as long as Roz can remember she’s had a rule with herself; whenever she goes out for a run (or when she brings her dog “Willlaaaay” for a walk), she always brings an empty bag and picks up whatever rubbish she sees along the way. She has a minimum quota: “I don’t come home until I’ve collected at least five pieces of litter”.
“Then I’ll bin whatever I collect, always looking out for items that can be recycled. It’s a ridiculously simple thing to do but makes me feel like I’m contributing to the greater good. That, plus I just hate seeing litter, especially in green areas or in places near the sea.”
It’s raining when I arrive at the field we have arranged to go plogging in. To be honest, I’m worried that Roz will cancel; who would want to venture outside and risk ruining their long luscious locks before a public appearance that afternoon? But as it turns out, the rain doesn’t phase Roz in the slightest, and she is rearing to go.
Roz is much better at plogging than I am, which is to be expected when you consider how she’s been one of Ireland’s leading ploggers for the last number of years, although she didn’t realise it...
So long as you’re incorporating a “plocka uppa” element to the activity, you’ll be part of a really positive trend that helps make our world cleaner while you get leaner
The painful reality
The act of plogging itself; the bending, the squatting, the reaching that is done in between blasts of running, is quite the workout. As Roz prances around, collecting the plastic bottles and crisp wrappers, I stumble and wheeze behind, my arm constantly outstretched in an effort to record this random activity on my phone. Whilst she looks like an eco-conscious gazelle, I look like a fan who’s trying to get a selfie with her.
The experience is a surreal one – it’s not every day that you run around a field picking up rubbish with a former Miss Universe winner. Nonetheless, Roz is incredibly encouraging and helpful, sharing her top plogging tips (“bring gloves for health and safety; keep an eye out for potential glass shards or other unsafe materials; recycle what you find where at all possible).
Clean and clear and under control
When we finish up, we have each collected half a black sack of waste. As I try to catch my breath, I look around and notice how the wide stretch of grass, that had once been peppered with litter as far as the eye could see, is now looking clean and clear and under control.
It’s a very satisfying sight to behold.
I’m not a big advocate for fitness trends, but this is one I would really recommend getting involved in. Whether it’s a stroll around the block or a sprint along the seashore, so long as you’re incorporating a “plocka uppa” element to the activity, you’ll be part of a really positive trend that helps make our world cleaner while you get leaner. Sounds like a win/win to me.