THE PLOGGING ACTIVIST

Michelle Parkes 39, works in marketing and lives in Kingston- Upon-Thames. Shocked by the amount of litter she’d see out on runs, she co-founded Plogolution plogolution.com), bringing people together to exercise, meet friends and clean up their communities.

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‘I’ ve grown up active and loved being outdoors, getting my fitness fix whatever the weather. I’ve run several marathons, tackled bootcamps and obstacle races, the craziest one being the Rat Race Double Mucker last year – 40 miles and 400 obstacles! ‘At the same time, I’ve always been concerned about the impact our overuse of materials has on our environment. When you spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s impossible to ignore litter. But it wasn’t until I started actually picking it up that I began to understand its scale and impact. Early last year, I went for a run along the Thames towpath with my friend Dermot. The amount of rubbish strewn along the riverbank, paths and streets became a talking point and we wondered what could be done. ‘With a little research, we came across the Swedish craze for “plogging” – a Word.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT IS TO CREATE HAPPY, HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

Combining the Swedish “plocka”, to pick, and jogging. We decided we’d try to harness the positive energy of the running community and start our own plogging group. ‘The first one we held was in Putney, London, in July 2018. We planned a route – 5K for runners, 2K for walkers – logged the date on Eventbrite and invited our friends to register. This was really useful as it let us see how many people might turn up, as well as giving those registered reminders to do so. We worried there might not be enough rubbish for everyone to pick up but sadly that was not an issue. On the day, 16 of us collected over 30 bags, and Plogolution was born.

‘For our second plog, we had T-shirts printed. This added to the community feel and helped spread the word – people saw us as a group and would stop to ask what we were up to. Then came our social media channels (@plogolution) and website. By September, we had 50 people plogging in London’s Battersea Park, collecting, sorting and, where possible, recycling more than 100 bags of rubbish.

ENDORPHIN HIT

Since then, we’ve held plogs all over London and in a growing number of locations around the UK. Sometimes, we’ve partnered up with local fitness instructors or other organisations, such as the Good Gym. Our mission statement is to create happy, healthy communities. We’re bringing people together to make a difference to where they live and also get that double endorphin hit of exercise and knowing they are making a positive impact on the planet.

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