120: Rules for plogging in New York City

January 17, 2019 by Joshua
in Podcast

If you haven’t started plogging, I recommend it.

What’s plogging? It’s a term the Swedish created for picking up garbage when you run.

I’ve picked up at least one piece of trash per day for a few years. In fact, this podcast began from a former student who, when he heard of my practice, committed to picking up 10 pieces of trash per day for a month.

Most people do it by bringing a bag to collect the garbage with. I wasn’t sure how to start plogging in New York because there’s so much garbage. If I picked up everything I passed I might not make a block.

Also, I don’t want to run with a bag.

Listen to my second conversation with John Lee Dumas and you’ll hear how his commitment to picking up trash from the beach near his home inspired me to stop analyzing, planning, and thinking, and act. I have to relearn that lesson over and over.

Action raises awareness more than raising awareness leads to action. Actually, planning, analysis, and raising awareness delays action, at least environmental action given that everyone is plenty aware. The environment has been front page news for years so everyone is aware. Certainly everyone listening to this podcast is.

The best way I know to do something you don’t know how is to start the best I can and learn from doing, then iterate.

Picking up every piece of trash is impossible. Planning away from the street doesn’t work.

I started running and developed rules that work for me.

Rule 1: I only have to pick up trash directly on my path

Rule 2: Cigarette butts and smaller I ignore

Rule 3: Nothing wet or in a puddle

Rule 4: If a trash can is not in sight, I don’t have to

Now I favor plogging to regular running. It’s like running with random lunges. My quads tire faster. Sadly it fills you with disgust at the filth people create and tolerate without cleaning. By people, I mean everyone.

It also fills you with a sense of civic pride. I make a little game of trying not to be obvious while being obvious. I dream of others picking up the habit. People see it as dirty when it’s actually cleaning the world. The people who litter seem the dirty ones to me.

Read the transcript.

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