London-based environmentalist Luke Douglas-Home is making his way to Italy later this week – as the sole UK competitor in the World Plogging Championships.
Plogging – or collecting plastic rubbish (or any rubbish), while you jog, aims to blend a healthy lifestyle with looking after the environment.
The unusual competition will see 100 competitors from 15 different nations, descend on Parco Delle Mura, Genova, for the race this weekend – Saturday 30th September.
Competitors are scored on the distance they run, the altitude they achieve, the weight of the rubbish they collect and the amount of CO2 they save.
Judges will sort through the rubbish collected and score it all – giving higher scores for rubbish with a higher CO2 score; steel will score higher than plastic bottles if Luke can carry it with him, of course.
The race time is capped at 7 hours – competitors score extra points for coming in below that.
The competition ties in with the end of their tourism season and acts as a clean-up operation at the same time. Locals and visitors will enjoy the weekend as an event – there will be entertainment and activities for people to enjoy as they wait for the competitors to come back and celebrate what they come back with.
It’s the reverse of usual sporting events in towns, which require a clean-up after it’s over – this one cleans up as it goes.
Luke will also be the UK’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony. He hopes to bring plogging back to the UK, officially.
Low pollution travel
Luke is travelling in a low polluting fashion to the event; trains out of London and into Europe, then if necessary, buses and maybe even hitch-hiking.
He’ll be wearing Vibram shoes – who manufacture shoes with minimal waste – and wearing Waterhaul sunglasses – made from recovered ocean plastic.
(Full disclosure – the shoes and sunglasses have been donated to Luke from those companies; he has run in Vibrams for a decade, and Waterhaul discovered Luke and wanted to support him in his mission, sharing the same value of cleaning up the oceans).
The Coastline Runner
Luke, who has been ‘plogging’ for many years without knowing it had a name or an event attached to it, has been covering the coasts of the UK as part of his Coastline Runner mission – to run around the whole of the UK’s coastline, collecting rubbish and meeting local people and councils to impact and influence their schemes that prevent ocean waste.
Since launching in November 2021, he’s run more than 500 miles of the UK’s coastline and collected in excess of 500kg of rubbish.
He meets local councillors, landlords, businesses and school pupils to find out and transmit what’s going on at all levels. Small actions, like the ice cream vendors on the beach deciding not to give out plastic spoons make a huge difference to ocean plastics – his mission is to share good work and influence others to follow.
His day job is running ‘A Future without Rubbish CIC’; an environmental impact consultancy that works with schools, councils, businesses and communities on improving environmental impacts.
He says: “I never knew I was plogging – and now I am going to the World Plogging Championships as the only UK competitor.
“Of course, I will be trying to travel there with as low pollution impact as possible, but I hope that I can put the spotlight on the importance of not dropping rubbish, and also collecting it to prevent it reaching the oceans.
“Collecting rubbish and putting it in the bin as I run is a tiny action – something we can all do, and it’s this idea of working together that will have an impact.
“We must see waste reduction as the starting point, not recycling. There is a long way to go, but people are waking up and taking their own actions, which is wonderful to see. If people see what I’m doing then realise they can do it too, it’s making an impact. I say to everyone who litters – “Pack it in! Put it in the bin!” and that would stop the need for me running coasts collecting plastic pollution!”