Environment + Fitness = Plogging!
Jogging is good for health and picking up litter is good for the environment. Why not combine the two?
That is what Plogging is. It is a combination of jogging with picking up litter. This new environmentally conscious fitness trend started as an organized activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution.
The nice thing about plogging is that anyone can do it. The #plogging and #plogga hashtags are used by all kinds of people who combine exercise with picking up trash, including runners, walkers, hikers, and cyclists.
From the last few years, I plog and organize plog sessions.
Here's my guide on how to organize your own plog session:
1) Get the message right
What do you want your audience to understand and implement? Aside from taking action against the habit of littering, our messaging is a bit nuanced. Our narrative is to make volunteers understand the different grades of plastic waste and their individual impact on the ecosystem as we strive to give them knowledge about end-to-end waste learnings.
We answer questions like: What is plastic made of? What happens to it when we throw it away? Who picks it up for us? What do they do with it? What happens to the plastic at the end of its life cycle? Through these questions, we take a deep dive into the waste narrative of our country and acquaint ourselves better with post-consumer trash.
2) Build communities, identify core-members to push movement ahead
One of our biggest challenges has been to build a dedicated community of ploggers who will not only turn up at our events regularly but also conduct their own. That's called giving youth agency to take action through plogging.
When we conduct workshops, we aim to simplify the waste narrative for volunteers to absorb. So when the time comes, they can make others understand the context and add to their existing knowledge of waste. But while building communities is a nerve-racking and time-consuming process, the hard work does pay off at the end.
3) Conduct waste workshops
We cannot underscore the importance of conducting workshops to make people understand any issue better. One of the biggest reasons behind our growth is because we organized these 'deep-learning' workshops on waste talking about a range of topics:
Sustainability, consumption, recycling, waste pickers. landfills, incineration plants, etc. We touch upon these points for a holistic learning and immersive experience. This helped establish our credibility.
4) Collaborate to expand your engagement
Collaborate more to get more out of your efforts. All the times we have reached out to like-minded organizations for plogging, we have always received an enthusiastic response from them. Our following increased so did our organic audience.
These are the people who are more responsive to our call to action for plogging events. Obviously, there's a huge element of knowledge building in the collaboration that we cannot discount. We learn and unlearn a lot of our concepts through collaboration and it's a great space to be in.
5) Milk social media by putting up informative posts
Explained stories work really well on social. Whenever we have written posts that are explanatory in nature, we have always garnered more attention, likes, shares, and comments. For example, our post demystifying the truth behind 'paper cups' is one of the most commented, shared and liked post till now.
This matters, because when you are promoting a new concept like plogging, people like to know if you have a depth of understanding of the matter.
6) Be very sure of what you speak in public on waste
It won't take much time for people to call you out if you don't know your subject matter. What people don't know and are interested in is YOUR point of view and YOUR understanding of the matter. In this case, waste and plastics.
Don't claim to be an expert, because there are thousands of experts out there who probably know better than you. But be confident about what you speak, even if it is something people already know.
Try to add more value to your knowledge base by reading up on some theory and latest news to be up to date.
7) Train people to be good storytellers on mobile
Mobile training workshops with PLUC TV helped us a lot. Why? At a time, when everyone is screaming for an ounce of our attention on social media platforms, only good stories stand out. Through mobile storytelling on Instagram, we reached out to a whole new set of audience that consistently consumed our stories. Why?
Because our content was unique from others in a way that it always gave our audience perspective. Whenever you expand the knowledge base of your audience, they will keep coming back.
8) Sustain the movement, keep planning new campaigns
Sustain the movement, it's not easy but keep at it. People don't like quitters. Prevent your movement from becoming stale. Redundancy can set in fast if you don't improvise and tweak your campaign from time to time.
After a while, the unique element of any movement loses its charm if you don't reimagine it. How? By curating cool campaigns that go beyond just plogging.
Plogging was definitely a paradigm shift for us, as it opened up a whole new world of waste that was alien to us. It's also an opportunity to expand into areas that talk away from just plogging.
(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)