Let’s start plogging

A Swedish civic fitness movement promotes picking up trash while jogging or taking a walk to keep the city clean. Are Dubai residents up to it?

Teenagers cleaning an area around Union Square Metro Station in Deira. A group of teens has teamed up with Dubai Municipality to be a part of their ‘Clean Up The World’ campaign.

Dubai: Sweden’s latest civic movement ‘plogging’ is becoming a new workout trend in many countries.

Plogging comes from the Swedish phrase plocka upp, meaning to pick up trash. It is a combination of people picking up trash while jogging, hiking, or just walking around the street or park.

It started as an organised activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution.

 Plogging started as an organised activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution.

The word as such is not very familiar to the UAE residents though many here have been involved in cleanup initiatives across the emirates.

Dubai Municipality, for example, runs a volunteering initiative called “An Hour with the Cleaner.” This is a chance for corporate employees, students and others to join the street cleaners in Dubai and help clean up deserts, beaches, streets and parks.

people joined An Hour with the Cleaner campaign

According to the Waste Management Department, 3,542 people took part in the initiative last year. As many as 1,036 students also took part in the initiative.

Employees of 47 government and private entities, including people of determination were part of the programme.

In total, the participants devoted 7,084 voluntary work hours in cleaning up Dubai during the Year of Giving.

cigarette butts collected during the campaign

Just the cigarette butts collected through the initiative in 2017 stood at a whopping 400,000.

The low-cost city beautifying initiative has helped save over Dh42, 000 and as many as 462 cleaners benefitted from it. They were spared the burden of the cleanup job they had to do when volunteers joined them to finish their hectic work.

Other campaigns such as Clean up the World also see massive participation of volunteers in cleaning streets, parks, deserts and beaches in the emirate. During the Clean up the World Campaign in 2017, the municipality said, volunteers collected a whopping one million plastic bottles through a giant trash bag set up at Lulu Hypermarket in Al Barsha in just five days.

There are several community groups and fitness enthusiasts who also take part in such initiatives.

Dubai Municipality has also formed a large group of diving volunteers to help keep the emirate’s rich marine world clean.

The “Day for Dubai” initiative launched by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, also encourages people to dedicate a day of volunteering work to serve the city which includes clean up campaigns.

Yet, plogging has not become a norm as part of daily life here.

Abdul Majeed Abdul Aziz Al Saifaie, director of the Waste Management Department, feels that is mainly because most areas where people go for walking and jogging are regularly cleaned up by municipal cleaners.

However, he would like to see more daily participation from the residents in keeping the city clean.

First of all, he said, the aim should be to prevent littering. “Reduce, recycle and dump the waste in the right place. These are the three most important things that residents can do to help keep Dubai clean,” Al Saifaie told Gulf News.

He said the concept of plogging can have a more positive impact if people help discard the recyclable trash in places designated for it.

“We have set up 13 Smart Sustainable Oasis Centres, where people can easily deposit as many as 18 types of recyclable items including plastic. We are expecting shopping centres and malls to come forward for setting up these collection centres for recyclables,” said Al Saifaie.

Once people have closer access to these recyclable deposit centres, ploggers could probably walk the extra mile to help promote recycling as well. Plogging enthusiasts consider the activity a more effective and satisfying way of work out as they bend, squat and stretch more while giving back to the society and helping save the nature.

They say plogging may take up extra time and effort, but the satisfaction it gives is unique.

Elsewhere in the West, people organised plogging events on Earth Day which fell on April 22. Probably, it is time for Dubai residents to catch up with them.

So, next time when you go for a walk, don’t just walk past the plastic bottle on the road or any litter for that matter. Pick it up and put it in the nearby bin. wear a pair of gloves and carry a trash bag.

Let’s start plogging.


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