Praise for joggers who pick up litter as Swedish craze hits Scotland

A green fitness craze born in Sweden has arrived in Scotland and looks set to sweep the nation.

Swedish entrepreneur Anna Christopherso has brought plogging to eco-conscious runners in the Scottish capital. Photograph: Lisa Ferguson
Swedish entrepreneur Anna Christopherso has brought plogging to eco-conscious runners in the Scottish capital. Photograph: Lisa Ferguson

Plogging, as it is known, involves collecting litter while out running. The name is a hybrid of the Swedish word “plocka”, which means picking up, and jogging. Now an entrepreneur has brought plogging to eco-conscious runners in Edinburgh.

Anna Christopherson, co-owner of the Boda Bar group, has led a jogging group from her pub, Joseph Pearce in Elm Row, for the past ten years. This week’s outing was transformed into a plog.

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She believes the activity is good for health and for the environment and hopes it will take off across the country.

She says she has been doing this sort of thing since her childhood when, living in the Swedish countryside, her family and neighbours would pick up rubbish as a matter of course. Plogging takes the custom a step further.

“It’s not that everyone should be running about picking up other people’s litter. It should be put in the bin in the first place. But I believe all of us should make an effort to keep our surroundings clean.

“It has always been a thing in Sweden. As a child I used to collect bottles and cans because we got money for them but my parents still do it now where they live.”

Vicky Elliott, who joined the maiden plog, is already an enthusiast.

“For me running is an opportunity to exercise my body, clear my head and, if I’m running with company, to socialise,” she said.

“Plogging just added an extra dimension on top of all those other good things.

“Why not mix up the usual route with a chance to chase each other to the coffee cup blowing down the street or jumping for the plastic bag caught in the tree?”

Bending and stretching to collect trash could even improve the health benefits of a run by including some of the characteristics of interval training.

Fellow first-time plogger Blair Hutton added: “We always like to try something new. We set out on a winter night armed with gloves and bin bags, and every last beer can and fag packet was descended upon in a competitive frenzy for who could get there first.”

The initiative has been welcomed by jogging groups and environmentalists.

“It’s lovely to see the idea of ‘plogging’ catching on in Scotland,” said Jo Stevens, membership development officer for the running network JogScotland.

“For people who jog regularly it’s great to introduce a bit of variety into your sessions. This looks like a good way of doing something different, which benefits the community.

“Quite a few joggers already take it on themselves to pick up litter when they see it in their running spots. Having a whole group of joggers doing this regularly could make a real difference to parks, paths and pavements.”

Carole Noble, operations director with Keep Scotland Beautiful, added: “This is a fantastic initiative. What could be better than combining getting fit with meaningful action to clean up footpaths and open spaces?”

She said anyone who plans to take up plogging or litter-picking while walking can order handy #2minuteCleanUp bags from the charity.