Plogging: The Swedish Fitness Craze That’s Saving the Planet

Litter is commonplace in most parts of the world. From city centers and tree-lined suburban neighborhoods to remote mountaintops and exotic beaches, trash on the ground is an unfortunate given.

Even Mount Everest isn’t exempt. Dubbed the world’s highest rubbish dump, the iconic peak is now being treated to a massive cleanup. We humans, it turns out, can’t be bothered to clean up after ourselves.

We’re not that keen to clean up after others, either. How many times have you stepped over a plastic bag or soda can or piece of paper lying on the sidewalk? I know I certainly have.

Perhaps you think picking it up won’t make a difference. Maybe you believe it’s not your responsibility. It could also be that you’re on your way to work and don’t have the time.

The thing is, picking up litter will always make a difference.

In an unlikely suburb just outside Cape Town, South Africa, they proved that the simple act of picking up a piece of paper can change your community, city and continent.

[Watch] One Person, One Paper, One Planet

It’s Time to Start Plogging

If you’re also inclined to hang out under rocks (like me), then you’re probably wondering what on earth plogging is. Combine the Swedish words plokka upp (picking up) with jogging, and you get plogging.

Picking up what exactly? Litter, that’s what. Shocked by how much rubbish he saw when he moved back to Stockholm, Erik Ahlström took it upon himself to start cleaning up his city. His one-man plogging movement soon gained popularity.

Plogging is now a global trend, with plog squads to be found in major cities around the world. It’s not uncommon to see groups of runners plogging on their lunch hours or after work.


How You Plog is Up to You

What if you hate running? Can you still plog? Plogging started out as a running movement, but there are no hard and fast rules except one: You must pick up litter.

“Everyone is allowed to do it how they want to,” says Ahlström. “Anything works. The most important thing is that waste is being taken out of nature.”

Christine Lepisto decided plalking (walking and picking up litter) was more her thing. You might prefer a high speed sprint session, skidding to a halt whenever you spot a piece of trash. For a lot of people, an easy jog is the answer.

You can go plogging solo, but it’s a lot more fun — and way more effective — as a group. Try rounding up your family, friends or colleagues and make a morning of it. You’ll get fit, clean up the planet and have some fun while you’re at it.

And if running the New York City marathon happens to be on your bucket list, plogging could earn you a spot at the start line. Michelob ULTRA has earmarked 95 bibs for environmentally conscious runners.

[Watch] Plogging: How Fitness Can Change the Climate

The Benefits of Plogging

Plogging has numerous benefits for you, the planet and the creatures we share it with.

1. It’s an Opportunity to Inspire Others

Plogging is the result of one person wanting to make a difference. Doing your bit for the planet will motivate others to do the same.

2. It’s Good for the Environment

Plogging leaves the area looking better, which is a bonus, but it also means the litter you picked up won’t end up in the ocean or anywhere else it can do damage.

3. It’s Good for Animals

Plogging is a great way to prevent animals from harm. Our trash poses a real danger to them. By picking it up we can stop that from happening.

4. It’s Good for Your Health

Making plogging a daily activity means you not only move more, but you move in more dynamic ways. You’re bending, squatting and reaching to get at the trash.

There you have it, a quick primer in the Swedish art of plogging. Put on your running kit, grab some gloves and a bag and get out there.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Leo C
Leo C11 hours ago

Thank you for sharing!

Christine V
Christine V2 days ago


Barbara S
Barbara S2 days ago

very good

Demy L
Demy L3 days ago

I love this! What a great for making this turn out in such a great event. A couple of years ago i was so sad by seeing all the litter floating in the ocean, i decided everytime i go for a walk along the beach, i pick up one bag full of litter to throw away, when that's gone, the rest of the walk i'll allow myself to enjoy and relax.
I've also heared in the Netherlands there will be a ocean clean-up day where they try to get hundreds or thousands of people to go pick up litter for a day. Why not every day?

Lisa M
Lisa M4 days ago


Lisa M
Lisa M4 days ago


Judith Hannah
Judith Hannah5 days ago


Danuta W
Danuta W5 days ago

Thank you for sharing

Nanette a
Nanette a6 days ago

Way to go!

Leo C
Leo C6 days ago

Thank you for sharing!