On the radar: plogging
As a runner in New York City, I feel it’s an understatement to say that running in the city doesn’t always produce the desired scenic vista. Try pretending you’re alone while executing intricate dodging maneuvers to avoid the thousands of people swarming unpredictably around you, choosing between filling your lungs with car exhaust on the streets and getting hit by tandem bikes in the parks (no? just me?), and, wherever you choose to run, encountering the all too familiar sight of garbage piled along your route. (This is New York after all: no nook is too small or too weirdly-placed for its own little garbage pile.)
The Swedes, however, offer runners everywhere a brand new solution to that last grievance at least: plogging.
This eco-friendly trend has seen runners in Scandinavia, France, and even Thailand burning calories and cleaning up their communities at the same time. Instead of running past (or over, or through) the litter that they encounter on their routes, ‘ploggers’ go out of their way – sometimes literally – to pick it up, often stuffing it into a bag they’ve toted along solely for that purpose. Afterward, these plucky joggers deposit their plunder into garbage bins where it belongs.
‘Plogging’ is a Swedish portmanteau of either plocka upp (pick up) or plocka skräp (pick up litter) and jogga (jog). Interestingly, the Swedish word skräp is cognate with the English word scrap: they both come from the Old Norse skrap, which itself is related to skrapa meaning ‘to scrape’ – in fact; the Swedish plocka and English pluck are cognates too.
There are only five examples of ‘plogging’ to be found on our word-tracking corpora to date; this is unsurprising, as the term apparently only arose in Sweden in 2016 and so is still very new to the English-speaking world. However, there are three points in ‘plogging’s’ favor that make its future seem pretty secure:
- Growing interest in Scandi lifestyle trends
IKEA aside, the ‘untranslatable’ (and Word of the Year 2016-shortlisted) hygge phenomenon comes to mind, together with the equally-untranslatable lagom, another Swedish lifestyle word we are currently tracking, which means something like ‘neither too much nor too little’.
- Growing interest in sustainable lifestyle trends
The tiny house movement, for example, has enjoyed increased attention over the last decade, offering a solution to the lack of affordable and eco-friendly housing one tiny (less than 500 square feet) package at a time. Other increasingly popular lifestyle trends include urban farming and solar paneling, to name but a few.
- Growing interest in running for exercise
Running for exercise, as we know it today, hit the ground running in the 1960s and has been a fairly consistent fitness favorite ever since, with enthusiasm for the sport currently on the rise – particularly in the number of people taking part in marathons worldwide.
‘Plogging’ combines all of these trends neatly – talk about no-nonsense Swedish ingenuity! So while it’s not guaranteed a place in our dictionaries yet, we will continue to keep a close eye on the word to see if takes off, hygge-like, in English. And who knows, maybe we’ll even try it ourselves…