A plogger shows off a decorated plastic bag in front of the Forbidden City. (Photo: Courtesy of Zhao Yashi)
For those who find traditional gyms a bit too stifling but still want to get into shape, a new trend that adds an interesting twist to exercise might be the thing for you: Plogging.
A plogger picks up trash in Germany. (Photo: VCG)
Not familiar with this word? That's understandable as it is actually a combination of jogging and the Swedish word for "pick up," plocka upp. Originated from Sweden, plogging all started with a man named Erik Ahlstrom, who was born and raised in a small town in the north of Sweden. Used to the clean and beautiful environment of his hometown, Ahlstrom was assuming that all cities in the country were as nice. However, when he moved to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, he was surprised to find that the streets of the so called "Venice of the North" were covered with a variety of trash. While he was out for a jog one day, Ahlstrom was suddenly overtaken with the desire to do something about the environment, therefore the next day, he went out on a jog wearing a pair of plastic gloves and carrying a huge garbage bag so he could pick up any trash that he saw along his way.
His friends and family soon became involved in this new hobby. With a larger team, they became the city's "jogging cleaners." After posting the results of a jog one day - a huge bag of rubbish and big smiles on their faces - on Instagram and Facebook, the group soon became a hit on social media and numerous joggers around the world began merging their exercise routines with making their hometowns a cleaner place.
Chinese joggers in many cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Hong Kong have also started getting involved in the trend.
"I felt really excited when I first heard about plogging. I didn't realize how easy helping the community could be," one plogger Zhao Yashi posted on WeChat on Wednesday.
"Such a little action makes us different, and also, makes the environment better."
Zhao and three of his friends went on their first plog the day before. They showed up at the starting point fully prepared with trash bags and markers so they could draw pictures on the bags. The four had carefully planned their route, which took them around the outer wall of the Forbidden City. A major tourist site in the center of Beijing, the area around the Forbidden City is often crowded and trash builds up quickly.
"We learned from a street cleaner that they get off work at 6 pm, so we arranged our first plogging event at 7pm, to help keep the streets clean after they went home," Zhao told the Global Times on Thursday.
After 40 minutes of running, each jogger was the proud owner of a full bag of trash.
According to Zhao, their reward was more than just pride for what they accomplished.
"You burn more calories picking up rubbish, according to Lifesum (a fitness app). You can burn about 235 calories while doing normal jogging, but plogging can get you 288 calories," Zhao noted.