New Delhi: Most of us like to take leisure walks every now and then, sometimes, we also for the health sake makes a routine of morning or evening walks. But have we ever given a thought or asked ourselves this question – ‘If I am taking a step for my own health, can I simultaneously help and take care of the environment?’ The answer most of us will give will be a straight ‘NO’. Isn’t it? But for 39-year-old marathon enthusiast who is by profession IS a freelance consultant for non-profit organisations, this one question made him start something unique. The uniqueness was the act of Plogging, which is about picking up trash while running/walking.
Srini Swaminathan from Chennai started his ‘plog journey’ in the year 2013, even before the trend of Plogging spread across the world. Sharing his story with NDTV, Srini said,
The decision to start something like Plogging and doing my bit to clean the planet I live in started because of my learnings and readings. I have always been a very environmentally conscious person and was conscious of how much waste I am generating or the ways in which I can reduce my carbon footprint. In the year 2009, I took up running for my health sake and I asked this question that if I am doing this for my health, is there something I can do for the environment as well.
View this post on Instagram
Completed @goheritagerun Khajuraho half marathon last Sunday. As with any other place in India, I noticed the streets littered with chips packets, and other plastic trash (though large parts of Khajuraho remain cleaner than most indian towns I have visited). So, I carried a @ikea.india blue bag to pick up plastic trash along the 21km half marathon route. This is called plogging – picking up trash while running and then discarding the trash in a proper waste collection bin or facility. . Khajuraho made me immensely happy with the laid back/relaxed vibes, great weather, lovely temples and history + great food and the dance festival. . Cleaning up a little bit was my way of expressing my gratitude to this place and her people. The idea of this was not to clean the entire 21km route on my own – it is almost impossible to clear years of plastic trash in a few hours – but more to create awareness and also a reinforcement to my own commitment to avoid generating plastic trash. @plogga @ploggersofindia #Plogging #ploggersofindia #ploggingIndia
Srini further adds another thing that motivated him to start his green tour was the Ugly Indian, an anonymous group of volunteers in Bengaluru, who believe in working together for cleaning the dirty spots of the city. He said,
I was very inspired and motivated with the Ugly Indian group, and the work they were doing. So, I took the group permission and started the Ugly Indian Chennai chapter. After I was involved in various clean-ups, I realised what a mess we have created on the planet. It is like when you get your own hands dirty you realised how much waste actually there is on the planet.
Simultaneously, Srini also started aiming for running with full and half marathons, for that he took up running as a daily practice and that is when he decided to club both his passions together and took up plogging in the year 2013. Since then, Srini has been simply going for his run with an empty bag, irrespective of which part of the country or world he is. And while he does his running he also picks up trash carelessly lying and does his bit towards the environment. Talking about how much waste he thinks he has collected or cleaned up from various streets, he added,
I never actually calculated the waste I was cleaning, since I was more interested on the final outcome. But from past two years, I started calculating as I wanted more and more people to come forward and get inspired of this trend. Imagine we all picking up trash from our surroundings with our daily routine – we will be able to get a much cleaner planet to live. Isn’t it. Usually, I am able to collect 30 to 40 kilos of trash in 2-3 hours of run and I have done around 5 to 6 of such marathons along with my 1 hour of practice run which I perform daily where I am able to pick upto 10 kilos of waste.
Last Saturday (July 27), Srini did 12 km run at the #BNPEndurathon inside Borivli National Park, Mumbai where he picked up nearly 35+ kgs of plastic trash (left by tourists/locals/runners from previous years and this year) in over 3.5 hours. Sharing the break-up of the trash picked up by him, Srini added,
I picked up, 200+ chips namkeen packets, 100+ single use plastic spoons, 200+ PET water/soft drink bottles, 100+ plastic carry bags, 30+ alcohol bottles and 100+ gutka and biscuit packets. These all are the ‘convenience’ plastic waste we are generating and that I wish to change in the coming future. We all are so dependent towards these things that we don’t realise how we are polluting the environment. Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems we are facing today and it is high time we start thinking about the solutions.
View this post on Instagram
Happily completed #PuneAFMC half marathon while plogging – picking up plastic trash thrown by runners on road (why?)…this is to walk (run!) the talk & show by example to the runners not to throw plastic trash on road. Most of the plastic trash I picked up on the running route -> GEL sachets made by @fastandup_india, @univedsports and GUGEL + enerzal sachets and chocolate wrappers and plastic water bottles. Though it looks hard, the IKEA bag made it easy to carry and run. At the finish line, I asked the organisers if I can share a message with the runners and they readily agreed. . . I went on stage and showed the runners the plastic garbage I picked up along the 21km route and how all this could have been avoided if we runners choose to . . 1) be conscious and choose not to bring anything that will leave behind plastic trash on the road . 2) carry the trash we generate with us till we find a proper garbage bin. . All this would have remained on the road and end up in our waterways or in the stomach of cattle 🙁 #ploggingIndia #plogging #ploggersofindia #ploggersofinstagram
Highlighting what he does with the waste Srini said,
Whatever waste is picked by me, I often segregate it myself and sold it off to the ragpickers. Items that can’t be sold such as plastic packets or poly bags are often dumped into the municipality bins, it is not an ideal way as even our municipalities are lagging behind when it comes to proper recycling but something is better put into the dustbin then lying carelessly on the roads, especially if it is plastic waste which is most often eaten by the animals.
With a message and hope that what he is doing will inspire people, Srini signed off,
Let’s just leave the world in a good way – be it for humans or animals. We should not wait for the heroes to do something for the environment, we should become one.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.