I know. I know. Some people bring literal bags of garbage home with them after a run they are better people than me and I am (mostly) fine with that. I would like to put it out there that I’ve been doing this for years before it was a ‘thing’. In case you don’t know plogging is combining jogging with picking up litter. While maybe I should, I don’t really do that. Instead I pick one funny little thing (or one big one close to home) to bring home for honey as a ‘running present’. He pretends to think it’s weird and stupid but I know he secretly loves it. I try to opt for plastic things rather than something that will break down but usually it has to fit in my little running pouch with my phone.
But it doesn’t make a difference
My mom used to tell me this story (she didn’t make it up though) about a little girl that comes upon a beach where thousands of starfish have washed ashore at low tide. If they are out of the water 6 hours or more they’ll all die. PS lived by the ocean my whole life and I’ve never seen that happen BTW. But she starts throwing them back in anyway and a man passes by. He points out that she can’t save them all so what difference is she making? She tells him, “well I made a difference for that one didn’t I?”
Maybe don’t focus on how sassy a kid she was, that it might just wash ashore on the next tide or whether it actually was pretty pointless. I think my mom’s point was that you can make a difference for people even if you can’t change the world. It’s a pretty good lesson too I guess. But I took away that it was more about her attitude always try to help and do the right thing even if it seems impossible. To my mom’s point maybe that was the piece of trash something furry was going to eat and get a bowel obstruction or something, so you never know the downstream effects. Plus it’s pretty easy to do.
Most of the litter we see no matter where we live is plastic and will make it to one of the world’s oceans eventually. For me it’s right there so it’s not had to see that. Picking up 1 pice a run or a bit over 100 pieces of small litter a year really doesn’t amount to a whole lot. It’s not going to solve the ocean’s plastic problem on it’s own. If we all did it it just might. Plus you never know someone might see me do it and pick up some of their own. Though there aren’t many pedestrians around here. Maybe they’ll pick something up or even stop littering themselves. A girl can dream right? It’s still right to do a good thing however small.
It’s being part of the solution though
When I was at the shore with one of my friends kids I picked up some litter and put if in the truck like usual. She asked why so I told her it was for the ducks. See pass it on and then she pretty much filled part of my trunk, which was awesome! This summer “three for the sea” signs started popping up at some local beaches encouraging all the beach goers to pick up three pieces of plastic. That numbers into the thousands of pieces most days here in the summer and that’s a pretty big difference. Actually thinking about this topic I’ve noticed a DRAMATIC decrease in the amount of trash littering the sides of the road in the last year around here. Either the picker up-ers are winning the war or I suspect there are fewer litterers in the first place and that’s great! I know I’m not the one turning the tides but it still feels good to be part of the solution. If every runner out there picked something up every run, it would become a big deal.
Great running presents in my opinion (AKA weird trash I found)
- A 5 gallon water jug from a small company in Florida (2300 km away)
- A pin like we use on some wharfs
- $300 in 3 used prepaid credit cards
- A Taylor Swift CD (someone is not a Swifty)
Why I don’t do more
Honestly because it’s harder. When I’m in training doing hard runs sometimes I’m too into the zone to notice anything and I arrive empty handed. One thing that made me like running more was making sure I had nothing in my hands so I’m not willing to ruin too much of my run for big hauls. And I’m out there primarily to run in the first place. Sometimes I find a funnier running present after I pick up the first one and those days I bring both home. I get that people out there drag home a plastic bag’s worth every run and that’s awesome my hat goes off to you and really I could do that too but this is all I have for you. I do lots of other stuff for the environment, like vegetarianism, so I’m okay with one piece of trash per run.
While I’m not a litterer and I’m against it, I’m just not a liter picker-upper either. I’m okay with it but now I feel a little guilty… Trash deep in the woods really irks me when I’m biking so I’ll take as much in my backpack as I can comfortably carry. Generally when I have the chance to easily take it home with me generally I do. Every once and a while I find something really big and despicable on the sides of the roads and I’ll eventually go pick it up and drag it to the dump if I have to. Maybe that will change in the future and I’ll bring a bag with me, that would be cool too. But I encourage you to pick up something most runs, it can actually be kinda fun!
Other reasons I do it
I can’t remember the first time I did it but it was probably something I thought would make honey laugh. Then I recycled it (probably) and I was like that felt great. Both because recycling rocks but I think it’s nice to show him I’m thinking about him while I’m out there running. That’s why when I fail (or forget) to get one I still pick him a wild flower or one time a whole bouquet. Running can get boring and monotonous from time to time and finding a funny running present can give you something to think about along the way. Plus not every piece of litter is left on purpose, like the ball joint boot I found today. That was probably from a pretty catastrophic break down and someone’s bad day. Not ever litterer is terrible, some of them were probably drunk. Stuff blows out of everyone’s cars from time to time too fast to chase it and it’s probably just good Karma.
Are you a full on Plogger? How did you get into it? Do you pick up trash while you’re running? Are you willing to start? Maybe we could call it ‘one per run’?