The Byron Bay running group has started “plogging” — picking up rubbish while they run. (ABC News: Barbara Miller)
If you haven’t yet heard of plogging, it won’t take you long to wrap your head around it.
The fitness craze involves picking up litter while jogging.
Yes, that’s the extent of it.
If that sounds like a sped-up Clean Up Australia Day, well it kind of is, except plogging is a worldwide phenomenon.
It began in Sweden, where the name originated.
“Plogging” is a mix of the Swedish words for “to jog” and “to pick up” — “plocka upp”.
A quick search online delivers posts from plogging groups from just about everywhere; in the UK, Italy, Finland, the US, Canada, Venezuela, Malaysia and India.
And of course, the Icelandic President was recently spotted plogging at his palace.
The Icelandic President was recently spotted plogging at his palace. (Facebook: Halldóra Gyða Matthíasdóttir Proppé)
Now, the craze has reached Australian shores. Well, it’s reached Byron Bay.
The Byron Bay running group have joined the Scandi craze known as plogging. (ABC News: Barbara Miller)
“We saw it on social media and we thought, ‘We can do this!'” said Geoff Bensley a member of the Byron Bay Runners and founder of the fledging Plogging Australia group.
“We thought Australia should be up there also and we’ve picked it up, and yeah, we’ve been loving it.”
“Loving it” is not the first impression you get from the Byron Bay Runners as they head out on what is only their second plog.
It’s been raining relentlessly through the night and at 7:00am enthusiasm for the task ahead is muted at best.
However, the group soon gets into the swing of things as they pound the 7-kilometre track along the coastline to Lennox Head.
Sorrell (pictured left) and Kai Millis (pictured right) pick up rubbish in northern NSW. (ABC News: Barbara Miller)
“What you’re really finding is lots of tiny bits of plastic and that’s a worry because that’s all out in the ocean being broken up and then getting washed up on the beaches,” club member Sorrell Millis said.
There are larger pieces of rubbish on the route too.
One runner finds a flipper in the sand dunes.
“That’s good that it didn’t go out to sea and kill some turtles,” 12-year-old Kai Millis said.
There are old sun tan lotion bottles, a broken plant pot and fishing line along the beach.
Once the group gets into town, they pick up bottles, takeaway cartons and, inevitably, cigarette butts.
It’s a run club with purpose
Plogging, it should be said, is not advised unless wearing gloves.
The group is convinced plogging has purpose.
“Being able to come through as a group means that you’re more effective at picking all of that up,” run club president Caroline Bailey said.
She thinks plogging really can make a difference.
“You can in your local environment,” she said.
“And if enough people do it then, yes, I think they can, absolutely.”
If you aren’t yet sold on plogging, think about the fact that it apparently burns more calories than your run-of-the-mill jogging or walking.
“I was just looking at my stomach this morning and hopefully it does do something with burning calories,” Mr Bensley said while patting a midriff that looked taut to the untrained eye.
“I can see my muscles are going to be sore for the next couple of days, which is good — no pain, no gain.”
Plogging is just scratching the surface of a massive global waste problem, a fact hammered home when the runners deposit their bags of rubbish in wheelie bins at the end of the activity.
“Tackling the problem is maybe something that’s dealt with at council level,” runner Gary Leckie said.
“We’re just doing our bit.”
So, will plogging last or is this craze just a phase?
“Oh, it’s here to stay for sure,” Ms Millis said.
“Look at us all, we’re crazy ploggers!
“What more fun could you have than running on a beach and picking up rubbish?”