Well we didn’t find any ink cartridges along the way, but Rosie the Jack Russel and I thoroughly enjoyed our first plogging experience. Plogging is a combination of jogging and litter-picking and originated in Sweden in 2016. It’s free, easy and gives a huge sense of satisfaction at the end of a busy day.
Rosie is used to stopping to collect litter on our daily dog walks- something I have often added to my social media pages to spread the word of keeping the world colourful. But today, we thought we would swap the wellies for the trainers in our daily ritual. I enjoy running but, I must admit that I do find it difficult to find the motivation to get started. After a long day of emails, meetings and travelling around in the car, we thought we would finally test out what plogging is all about.
We are very lucky to live in a beautiful village in Essex but sadly our village does not escape the monster that is litter. We donned the running gear and took an old carrier bag out on our 3km run this evening with great excitement. We collected a large carrier bag full of rubbish, all of which told a story of how it got there. As we ran out of the village, we came across plastic wrapping that had obviously blown out of residents’ household waste bags. Sadly, these often end up buried within the verge and long forgotten. We also found odd and broken parts that had come free from their cars- the unscrewed aerial or the broken plastic trim from a bumper that had argued with the curb.
What made me forlorn was the deliberate litter that we met along the way. As we exited the village centre and made our way along the back lanes of the village, the general clutter, the dropped tissue or the corner of a chocolate wrapper which had caught the wind as its owner munched, gradually dissipated. However, what was left tells a much more dissatisfying tale. We may live in a pretty village which boasts a plethora of picturesque sights but we are only around five miles from the nearest McDonalds drive through- just enough time for a person to eat their Big Mac, fries and coke and then decide they would rather throw their mess into the beautiful countryside than allow it to taint the smell of their car. The irony was not lost on me that, as I collected this rubbish, I could hear the strangely harmonic sound of the combine harvester working its magic a few fields away to reap the harvest that would produce the next sesame-seed bun for a McHappy customer. We also came across a freshly scrunched-and-chucked cigarette packet and the whole contents of someone’s packed lunch strewn in a pile on the floor. I mean- people- take the rubbish home!
With my rant over, I return to the plog itself. I had concerns that the litter-picking may stop the flow and enjoyment of the run or that I would become entangled in the lead of a frustrated dog as I paused again and again. But I was pleasantly satisfied. Stopping every fifty yards or so did not cause any problem and, in fact, kept the dog on her toes- quite literally I guess. I found that I ran further this evening than I may usually do and that my mind was focused on the litter rather than the run itself. I did not punish or chastise myself for stopping as I felt the run was more purposeful than usual- rather than calorie-counting in my head, my mind was on the beautiful verges and sense of satisfaction for picking up a discarded balloon rather than leaving it for a small animal to find. Rosie was also happily engaged and there was a sense of needing to be more alert to my movements and thus getting more fulfilment and engagement from the run.
The main success of anything is whether you are enthused enough to repeat the experience. For me, when I think of going for a quick jog, I usually huff to myself and think of it as something I should do rather than would like to do. Taking a carrier bag out gave the run purpose and definitely took pressure off the main task – destressing, burning a few calories and keeping in shape enough to justify my evening glass of wine. It gave me a sense of satisfaction, strange pleasure and it took the focus off me feeling sorry for myself that I’d put my body up to this out of choice. I have come home having done a longer but gentler run than usual, with a contented dog and an extra bag of goodies that will now be recycled rather than blot my homestead. So will I repeat the experience? I most certainly will and it shall no doubt encourage me to get my running shoes on more often.
To see my vlog about my plog with the dog, visit my Facebook or Instagram page via my website- www.theinkbin.co.uk
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