Plogging on Hampstead Heath: Swedish craze of jogging while litter picking comes to north London

PUBLISHED: 11:03 19 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:03 19 February 2020

Michelle Parkes with some eager ploggers. Picture: Plogolution

Michelle Parkes with some eager ploggers. Picture: Plogolution


This weekend a revolution is coming to Hampstead Heath.

Dermot Kavanagh and Michelle Parkes in the midst of plogging. Picture: Annie Armitage / PlogolutionDermot Kavanagh and Michelle Parkes in the midst of plogging. Picture: Annie Armitage / Plogolution

Or, to be more precise, a plogolution is coming.

Plogging - a cunning combination of running and picking up litter - is making its Heath debut at an event being jointly run by the grassroots group Plogolution and sustainable sportswear brand Tribe.

The idea is simply that runners - or walkers - of all ages take a second to punctuate their exercise by collecting the detritus that occasionally spoils a morning on the Heath.

Plogolution was born in the depths of south London. Co-founder Michelle Parkes told Heathwatch: "Plogolution was born in 2018 when me and [co-founder] Dermot Kavanagh went for a run and noticed quite how much rubbish and litter there was."

Dermot Kavanagh with some eager young ploggers. Picture: PlogolutionDermot Kavanagh with some eager young ploggers. Picture: Plogolution

Inspired by finding out a bit about plogging on the internet - it started in Sweden, which is where the word "pl" in plogging comes from the word "Plocka" - Michelle and Dermot held their first plog in Putney in July 2018, and things have spiralled.

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The event on Hampstead Heath is in collaboration with Tribe, which makes running gear from sustainable recycled plastics.

Michelle added: "Since 2018 we have had thousands of people take part and we have made a massive impact.

"I think the David Attenborough effect has made a real difference. Now it's not just a melting glacier a long way away, we are seeing first hand the consequences the climate crisis is having on us."

Michelle, 40, said she had been able to visit schools across London to get them involved in plogging, and was always looking for volunteers to take on plogging events in their local areas or create plogging groups at their schools.

She added: "We always provide all of the equipment, and give a full health and safety briefing, people should just come along."

The event, like most of Plogolution's, will see a 2 kilometre course for people more keen on walking while they pick-up litter, and a 5km layout set up for the more seasoned runners to get their teeth into.

This weekend's plog, which was originally cancelled during Storm Ciara, takes place between 10,30 and midday on February 23. It is completely free, but wearing comfortable clothing suited to the weather is recommended.

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