Claire Petrie on plogging with friends and saving her the local environment

Today marks Earth Day, a time to celebrate the planet we call home and take stock of how we can protect it both through sport and our every day lives.

We recently caught up with Claire Petrie who established her very own plogging group in the Bristol area, as part of a pilot project in partnership with Planet Earth Games. Although in its infancy, Claire and her group have made huge strides to clean up the litter in their local area, whilst enjoying the local environment with new friends.

What is plogging?

You may be thinking, what exactly is plogging? The phrase combines the Swedish terms for pick up (plocka upp) and jog (jogga) to create the term plogging! Taking the world by storm before the pandemic, plogging has become popular amongst the running community who want to not only protect their running routes but also their local environment. So, how did Claire find her love of running and plogging?

Starting out

For Claire, it was at school where she first demonstrated a passion for running, but it was not until a friend’s hen party in adult life that she picked the hobby back up:

“It was 2006 and my friend decided for her hen do that we would complete the Bristol Half Marathon. Fast forward 20 years and I am still in love with running, it has kept me sane especially since having children. It gives me the headspace and opportunity to relax and process my thoughts. When the pandemic hit I decided I wanted to put my passion to good use and trained to be a personal trainer to help others transform their lives through running. Along with the local group This Mum Runs (now This Woman Runs), I helped to deliver prescriptions to those who were isolating and it made me realise how running can be used as a tool for good for the local community, the environment and exercise."

“I wouldn’t call myself an eco-warrior but I hugely care about the planet. I don’t find I am on the frontline constantly shouting about it, but I try to live my life in a green and environmentally friendly way. I am always recycling even if it is the tiniest piece of plastic and I am passionate about making sure my children are also aware of their impact on the planet as a whole and the environment around them."

“When I heard about plogging I thought it was great as it was an opportunity to first of all go our for a run, meet new people and do good for the planet.”

Growing interest in the local community

Claire Petrie on plogging runIt can be hard to get new initiatives off the ground, but Claire has created a fantastic, supportive community of runners in Bristol who want to help.

“At first I put a call out on Facebook and on the first run there were three of us. We have since set up a WhatsApp group and try to head out every third Sunday. The main thing is persuading people to join in as they are often interested in the idea but it is encouraging them to give up a little bit of their time to benefit themselves and the planet.”

Top tips for a successful plog

Picking up litter can be just as easy as dropping it in the first place, so Claire has outlined some top tips to make your first plog a success, starting with equipment!

  • Long litter picker to reach into bushes
  • Thick gloves to protect your hands
  • Recycling and landfill bags to separate the litter
  • A scale to weigh the rubbish to report back to the council for collection, but to also see your impact as a group.
  • Choose your plogging location towards the end of your run so you don’t have to carry heavy bags.
  • Be prepared to leave some rubbish behind. Sadly within an hour it is not always possible to pick up absolutely everything, so you often have to accept you have done your bit for the day.
Download Hosting a Plogging Event factsheet (PDF 270kB)

Overcoming challenges

Despite having a positive goal to help the environment in her local area, Claire has come across some challenges.

“There is some negativity around plogging from people in the community. They feel that litter picking is someone’s job at the council and we’re taking this from them which is not the case. You just have to put this opinion to the side and know you are making a positive impact. I am often astonished about the volume of litter and also the types of things people throw – from full tins of paint to broken children’s toys. Once you see the litter you can’t unsee it wherever you go."

“A more positive challenge is that runners often want to bring their families along, but this can sometimes not be an option as we run over 5km or on less accessible routes. Going forward we don’t want to discourage anyone from supporting our cause, and would like to introduce a new walking, family friendly plog for children to come along to. They are our future and we need to emphasise how important looking after the planet is.”

Want to get into plogging yourself?

Whether you want to give plogging a go this Earth Day, or you want to introduce a more regular litter picking run into your routine our partners check out our brand new Hosting a Plogging event Factsheet on our Sustainability Club Hub Collection to help you set up your own plogging events.