“Plogging” and “Plokking”

Dear President Trump,

I just learned that there’s a new (since 2016) Swedish word ~ “plogging” ~ that refers to picking up litter while jogging. It’s a pretty exciting find for a couple of reasons starting with the “hey, that’s what I’ve been doing!” reaction, which signaled feeling some connection and validation for what has felt like a kind of crazy mash-up of activities. Second, the fact that I saw the video about it in the WP tucked into an article on the myth of the ideal fat burning zone means that a lot of other joggers out in the world will see it too and might think about adding litter pick up to some of their runs. The video is worth a look. It’s super quick and it basically follows three middle aged men jogging through pretty landscape carrying billowing white plastic bags that they deposit bits of trash into periodically. There’s no narration and no explanatory text – at all. The message is abundantly clear – just pick up the trash and don’t let it get into the nearby waterway.

At first I was doing a bit of uncharitable mental scoffing watching them running in the sunshine on trails (no cars) through fields of low grasses along the edge of the sea, thinking how different that is from run/walking in the dark in the rain in urban territory, but they really did seem to make a quite a haul of trash even there. So, clearly, it doesn’t matter where you happen to be – chances are there’s some trash to be harvested. Plus, they made it look fairly pleasant and fun, which is probably much better advertising for the activity than showing someone doing it somewhere like Northeast Seattle.

This week I finally started alternating walk and run days now that my foot is feeling better. The last month or so I’ve just been walking and I was able to collect quite a lot of trash – things look better around here. I think maybe I’ll call the litter pick-up while walking “plokking”; it doesn’t have quite the ring that “plogging” does, but maybe it’ll catch on since more people walk than jog.

One last thing about all this to tell you for now – the other morning I was cleaning up around a bus stop, which was quite easy because there was a trashcan right there (arg!), and a man walked by and thanked me for the kindness. As soon as he spoke it was apparent that his first language is not English. The non-immigrant Americans I’ve encountered while plokking have either just looked away or commented that I need to be careful. Maybe it’s a coincidence that the one and only stranger who’s been supportive is not originally from here. Maybe. Probably not.

May we protect our collective waterways from trash.
May we be happy to be oddballs in the pursuit of a stronger common good.
May we find ways to combine self-care and world-care.
May we make peace with the reality that the status quo is not sustainable.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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