BE THE CHANGE:
BLOGGING ABOUT PLOGGING
Last week my neighbor posted a video on Facebook. It was about “Plogging.” I’d never heard of the term but discovered it is a Swedish thing. It derived it’s name from “plocka upp” for picking up combined and the word jogging. It started as a movement in 2016 and has spread to other countries. I’m surprised it took this long for me to hear about it. Apparently there is a similar movement in Tennessee called Trashercize.
This post came at the perfect time for me because mother nature was kind enough to start melting off our snow and I was seeing nothing but litter along my running route. I run the same route often and I would think, “Why doesn’t they guy that lives here pick up this trash in front of his house?” Well, maybe he doesn’t know it is there. Or possibly it blew out of his neighbors trash bin. But as I passed by on four out of following seven days last week, the trash remained in place.
After a few days, I mentioned this to my husband. He is used to my crazy ideas but he was actually quite happy about this one. He was sick of seeing all the litter too. I told him that for one week, I wanted to clean up as much litter as I could along my normal running and walking routes. He thought it was a great idea and that he would help.
Day 1: We took the dogs for a two mile walk along our normal route. I took a kitchen sized trash bag with us. I donned my rubber coated gardening gloves and he walked the two border collies while I “plocka upp” the neighborhood. He would grab little things that didn’t look dirty as he wasn’t wearing gloves and I would pick up everything else. I don’t think we were even two blocks from our house and the trash bag was already 1/4 full. I picked up a ton of little alcohol and beer bottles along the path. We live within a half mile of six stores that sell alcohol, it seems people feel they need to drink it and toss the bottle out the window along my street. Thankfully, less of the packaging is glass these days. But we still see a fair share of broken bottles on the sidewalk, which I should mention is usually in front of the elementary school.
Day 2: In the morning we headed out to walk the dogs. I got to the end of my own driveway only to see a McDonald’s bag in the middle of my street. Someone obviously tossed it out of their car window while driving by. It was like a slap in the face, why would you possibly need to throw your fast food bag out on my street? On our two mile walk, I picked up more trash. Apparently all the people in my area run out of cigarettes at the same time and toss their empty packages along my route. And I’m not sure what all the tin foil is from either, hopefully it’s not drug related-but glad I’m wearing gloves to pick it up. Later in the day I ran the dogs six miles. I ran through a subdivision where the cheapest house is probably a million dollars. I picked up an entire grocery store shopping bag of trash here. I suppose they have have a crew of people that keep their property looking nice, but if so they aren’t doing a good job. In the evening we went for another two mile walk with the dogs. I filled up yet another kitchen sized garbage bag. I found one syringe today, thankfully the cap was still on it. I’ve also found a bunch of plastic bags on the side of my path filled with dog poop. Honestly people. Why bother putting it in a bag and leaving it? You are actually making more litter by bagging it than if you left it alone.
Day 3: My glutes are pretty sore from all the squatting to pick up trash and my back is feeling the workout too. But my dog Kirby needed a run to burn off some of her crazy. On our five miles, we covered some of the same streets that I have previously cleaned up. I was hoping it was starting to look clean, but three doors down from my house I found a water bottle on the sidewalk. I took two plastic grocery store bags with me on this run. I filled the first one on my way out and the second one on my way back. I could have filled four more if I had them, but it gets hard to carry them and run. I can manage two, but I probably look pretty silly running while I carry them running. I stopped at home, dropped off the trash and traded Kirby for my other dog Zuzu. We went out for two miles and I took two more bags with me. I filled them up incredibly fast. Nothing by energy drinks, beer cans, liquor bottles and such along this route. There is no way this stuff is being dropped by accident or distributed by the wind from trash cans. At one point I saw about 30 free newspapers left by a delivery person in front of a house that is for sale. You’d think they’d get the hint that if they hadn’t picked up the last 20, you don’t need to keep leaving them. I did not pick those up as I’d need an entire bag just for them. By the way, if you’ve lost one glove in my area, its mate is in my trash can. I think I’ve picked up a dozen single gloves.
Day 4: My husband took the dogs out with us on a different two mile route. I picked up an entire kitchen sized trash bag of the usual assortment of litter. There again was an alarming amount of liquor bottles. I also stopped at a vacant house that is close to mine and picked up all the newspapers and phone books (I can’t even believe they still print those things) that had accumulated in the past few months. I’ve stuffed everything I’ve found so far into my own personal trash can and recycling bin. I told my husband that the bin is so full that you couldn’t fit a fart in there.
I have been thinking of a way to express how I feel about this project. As I said my glutes are sore and it kind of was a pain in the butt to clean up after everyone else. I won’t pick up trash on my runs every day in the future. I will do my best to keep my neighborhood clean, while that effort may only be appreciated by my husband and myself. I’m not huge on quotes but I’ll toss this one out there. Ghandi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I just got fed up of running by the same trash every day. I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t that guy pick it up?” Well, if he wasn’t going to, I guess I had to be the change.