Why you need to get on board Chennai's first plogging party
Fitbits and garbage bags don’t usually go together. But this weekend, a bunch of folks from Chennai are going to be combining the act of jogging and picking up trash — as part of the city’s first ever plogging party.
Now the concept, if you are reading about it for the first time, is novel — but certainly not new. Plogging is a combination of the words jogging and plocka upp, which is Swedish for ‘pick up’. It began as a Swedish fitness craze a few years ago, and has slowly travelled to several parts of the globe. Digital nomad Jacob Cherian who shuttles between Bengaluru and his family home in Kodaikanal quickly picked up on it when he started finding a lot of the bison near his home eating garbage. But as he began posting about the trend on social media, he tells us, “I realise different people got different takeaways from the activity.” Which is what fuels his drive further and has helped him take the trend to nine cities over the past year, with as many as 3,000 participants.
The latter include nine-year-olds from a school in Delhi who wanted to do a good deed to 20-somethings in Bengaluru “looking to socialise and maybe meet some girls” we’re told with a laugh to residents of Goa looking to clean their streets just before the start of the tourist season.
Pick up station
Facilitated by Surya Dinkar of Earthworks Innovative — the event will see participants will be provided with rubber gloves and biodegradable trash bags. The event will also have a station with poking sticks for convenience and hospital-grade hand sanitiser.
While the motivation may vary however, the mission is the same wherever plogging events are conducted: ‘to clean up your city and make it fun while you’re at it’. So apart from making some new friends and sharing chai after, Jacob tells us that larger events have even been incentivised by sponsors offering cool freebies. “This one gym for instance, offered a one-month membership for the person in one of our events that picked up the most trash!”
That said, trash is also the biggest reason why people hesitate to sign up and join the movement. “Our main hurdle has been getting people to go out and pick up someone else’s trash,” Jacob says candidly. But if you think about it, he adds, “Even if you don’t litter, you can be sure that from the trash you have generated — some of it, a dog has ripped open the bag, some of it has been burnt somewhere or it might have landed up in the ocean. So it’s our collective mess to clean up.”
On June 8. Time: 4 pm to 6 pm on Elliot’s Beach. Starting point: Police booth.