Complete Guide To Plogging: What Is Plogging, How To + 14 Helpful Tips!

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Everyone loves a good portmanteau. From chortle to hangry, frenemy to glamping, portmanteaus are a fun way to combine two words to describe a hybrid in a new word that rolls off the tongue.

The sport of running has its own portmanteau: plogging. If you’ve never heard of plogging before, you might imagine it’s an amalgamation of “plodding” and “jogging” to describe really slow jogging or plodding along at a snail’s pace, but plogging is actually so much more than a slow jog.

Keep reading for our guide to plogging to learn what it is all about, what plogging means, and how to get started doing it.

We will look at: 

  • What is Plogging: The Plogging Definition
  • Benefits of Plogging
  • How to Get Started
  • Where to Go Plogging
  • How to Do Plogging
  • Tips for Plogging

Let’s jump in!

A woman plogging.

What is Plogging?

So, we teased that plogging is not, in fact, a portmanteau of “plodding” and “jogging,” so what is it?

Plogging is a term made by enmeshing “jogging” with “plocka upp,” which is Swedish for “pick up.” Therefore, the plogging definition is an emerging fitness that involves picking up litter or trash while you run. It combines exercise and environmentalism in one fell swoop.

Although plogging typically refers to litter cleanup while running or jogging, the term can be applied to any physical activity you perform while picking up trash. Other examples include cycling and rollerblading.

This up and coming environmental activity began in Sweden in 2016 and has since spread across other European countries, as well as the United States, Mexico, and other areas around the world, mostly due to the attention and awareness garnered through social media.

Benefits of Plogging

Because plogging typically involves jogging or running, there are many inherent health benefits to this eco-friendly fitness trend. However, the benefits extend beyond just improving heart health.

A person plogging.

Here are some of the top benefits of plogging:

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Improves mood and makes you feel good about yourself 
  • Provides intrinsic motivation to exercise
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Increases mindfulness about environmentalism
  • Provides a way to do interval training
  • Gets you outside in the fresh air
  • Helps you move your body in different ways
  • Makes exercise more fun and distracting 
  • Gives back to your community
  • Cleans up your community 
  • Varies your routes
  • Protects wildlife 
  • Connects you online and builds social connections with other ploggers
People plogging.

How to Get Started

Before you start, you’ll need to outfit yourself with the right gear to get the job done.

If you’re already running or jogging, you should have a good pair of running shoes and running apparel. If not, you’ll want to go to your local running store and get proper running shoes to support your feet

Ploggers can put in a surprising number of miles per week, depending on your commitment to the activity, so it’s crucial that you have the right footwear.

Beyond that, you’ll need a good pair of gloves to protect your hands from broken glass, soiled products, and sharp and dirty litter items you may pick up, and a trash bag of some sort for collecting what you pick up.

Depending on the climate in which you live, your budget, and your interest in this new activity, you can invest in some durable work gloves, which will be warmer and more protective than cleaning gloves, or disposable latex or non-latex surgical gloves.

If you only imagine you’ll dabble a little in this fitness activity, inexpensive disposable gloves should suffice, but be careful to get something that seems rip-proof.

Carrying hand sanitizer in your pocket is ideal for a quick cleanup after you are done collecting litter in one area and dispose of your bag of collected trash. 

Some ploggers wear a hydration pack or small, washable backpack for their outings. This way, if you opt for work gloves, they can be taken off and stored in here while running to and from the area where you plan to pick up litter.

Finally, some ploggers with limited back mobility use a claw grabber tool to pick up trash so they don’t have to bend over.

People plogging.

Where to Go Plogging

Theoretically, you can go plogging almost anywhere you have permission to be. Depending on where you live, you may encounter trash along the side of the roads, parks, school playgrounds, trails, parking lots, town squares and bike paths.

Just be careful to be mindful of traffic if you’re along the side of a road picking up litter, and respect any private property lines.

How to Do Plogging

There’s no right or wrong way to get going. You can go alone, with your running mates, or in a big group. 

You can structure your whole run around picking up trash the entire time, or you can run to a specific location—such as a local shopping mall parking lot—and plan to whip out your plogging gear and start picking up trash once you reach the location.

Ploggers are encouraged to take photos of their efforts and share them on social media to spread awareness and inspire others to join in on beautifying the environment while getting fit.

People taking a photo of bottles collected while plogging.

Tips for Plogging

The following tips will help you stay safe and allow you to maximize the benefits of your new hobby:

  • Always wear gloves: Gloves are imperative for protecting your hands.
  • Obey traffic safety rules: If you’re along the side of a road, be mindful of vehicular traffic and heed traffic rules.
  • Wear a safety vest: A reflective safety vest can increase your visibility to drivers and help keep you safe.
  • Don’t touch your face: Your gloves should be considered contaminated, so keep them far from your face.
  • Don’t pick up needles: Disposed sharps and needles can be dangerous. Don’t pick up items such as shards of glass, broken bottles, or other items you aren’t comfortable touching even with gloved hands.
  • Use your knees: Use proper squatting technique—bending your hips and knees and sitting back when you squat down—rather than bending over from your back. 
  • Switch your load: If your bag of collected rubbish starts to get heavy, be sure to alternate the arm you are using to carry the trash bag to prevent muscle imbalances or one side of your body getting overworked.
Two trash bags full of trash after plogging.
  • Scan the area before you start: Taking a quick visual surveillance of the area can help you spot any dangerous people and will also help you spot the areas of notable trash to get started with.
  • Thoroughly wash and sanitize your hands when you are done: Proper hygiene is key to preventing infection.
  • Dispose of the trash and recycling properly: You can visit sites like berecycled.org to learn what can be recycled and what is trash.
  • Post your plogging adventures: This new activity has spread around the world due to social media posts. Keep spreading the movement by posting your plogging picture with the hashtags #DoBeautifulThings and #Plogging.
  • Gather a group: Plogging is a great group activity and you can cover more ground when you’re picking up trash with friends. You can find other ploggers on Facebook or organizations such as Go Plogging and Keep Britain Tidy.
  • Plan ahead: Set a goal and make a plan before you head out plogging. How long do you want to be gone? Do you have a distance goal? Do you want to collect a certain number of pieces of litter? A goal can make plogging more motivating and can give you a start and end to the outing.
  • Play games: To make plogging more fun, play games with yourself. Try to find a piece of trash that starts with every letter of the alphabet, or try to get 100 snack bags, or look for a piece of litter for each color of the rainbow.
People taking a selfie of their trash bags after plogging.

Plogging is a great way to make your little area of the world a little cleaner, brighter, and safer while boosting your own health, fitness, and mood. 

Have you tried plogging? What’s the craziest thing you’ve found while on the hunt? Do you go with a group or alone? Let us know! 

Remember, this is just as exhausting as any other jog or workout would be, so treat it as so. Be sure and cool down and stretch properly after any type of exercise. Here are some stretching guides to get you going:

Calf Stretches

Hamstring Stretches

IT Band Stretches

Quad Stretches

People plogging in a park.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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