Started out as an organised activity in Sweden in 2016, plogging has become a workout trend around the world while raising awareness towards plastic pollution
Whether you’re looking to receive your personal training qualifications or simply trying to participate in as many outdoor fitness classes in Hong Kong as possible, it’s never too late to get inspired by all the fitness trends in 2020 that are swiftly moving through the wellness community. I’ve always been a bit of a keen jogger, so when I heard that plogging in Hong Kong was taking off (and becoming a bit of a fitness craze), I immediately wanted to hit the road, with bags in hand.
Plogging in Hong Kong: What’s it all about?
A portmanteau word, “plogging” is the combination of “jogging” and “plocka”, the Swedish term for “to pick”. The idea is that you pick up litter while out running, essentially killing two birds with one stone, and the activity has been not only growing in popularity in its native Sweden, but has also reached further in Europe and also the US. It’s good for both the environment and ourselves – what better way to get a workout in which combines running with squatting (to lift rubbish) and also cleaning up our act a bit.
My experience with plogging in Hong Kong
Off I went on a solo mission to get fit and save our planet; rubbish bag flapping in the afternoon breeze, like Superman’s cape in the wind. I felt like this could be quite a competitive sport, as I ducked, dived and swooped behind overflowing bins along Queen’s Road – calf muscles bulging – to scoop up stacks of discarded leaflets, single-use plastic, empty juice cartons and countless disposable coffee cups. Sigh.
Within 10 minutes, my bag was already filling up. It’s amazing – and dispiriting – to see how much mess is lying on the streets of our city. Passers-by gave me confused looks, and I assumed it was a surprise to see someone decked out in their best yoga clothes doing the dirty work. But smarting as a newly crowned superhero plogger, lost in a world of cigarette packets, I carried on regardless.
Litter offers a glimpse of the city’s social mix. Lockhart Road: shady haven red light district for al fresco drinkers, is where Blue Girl beer bottles go to die. At Tamar Park: a stone’s throw away from the prosperous CBD part of town, it’s Marks & Spencer prosecco and (count them) 15 empty packets of Percy Pig candy.
What about those fitness gains?
Not content with just bending down, I discovered the pursuit for thinking outside the plogging box rewards you with more physical benefits in the form of interval training (of sorts), like when I stretched for bags snagged in trees. I also found myself stretching a leg between railings to retrieve a sweet wrapper, introducing a parkour element; lifting a can of Coke Zero mid-cartwheel and at one point, spotting a cardboard box on Sports Road – but rather than dumping it in the nearest bin, I sprinted back two hundred metres to heft it into the appropriate recycling point. Hey, it was a good arm workout!
How did I feel afterwards?
After roughly an hour, I was panting and sweaty, but mostly feeling saintly. The city is now a little cleaner – after all, every little bit helps! However, there’s one small thing that has left me dissatisfied. My efforts have made no difference to a pet hate: chewing gum stuck to the pavements. A quick Google search tells me you need a steamer to get that off and I’m not going to run with a steamer any time soon. Oh wait, that could be a good workout!
*Since my inaugural plogging in Hong Kong outing, I’ve discovered a community group called the Hong Kong Ploggers that host regular plogging events promoting green initiatives. That would be a good place to start if you’re a mad multi-tasker like myself.