This post is by Pure Earth intern Matthew Chakwin, who is studying Global Health at Georgetown University.
August 2019–This June, over 130 volunteers from HSBC’s water programme in the Philippines did some plogging to raise awareness about pollution for Pure Earth. Originating in Sweden, plogging consists of jogging and “plocka upp,” a Swedish phrase meaning “to pick up.” Plogging has become a creative way of engaging people not only in exercise, but also in taking action to protect the environment.
“I see plogging as an activity that helps volunteers appreciate the fact that caring for the environment can start small and these seemingly small acts of caring can make a big impact if we do it together,” says Larah Ortega Ibañez, Pure Earth’s program director in the Philippines. So when an HSBC volunteer brought up the idea of plogging, Ortega Ibañez jumped at the chance to incorporate the activity as part of the ongoing collaboration between Pure Earth and HSBC. She believes the activity was valuable in getting volunteers to question how they can better implement lifestyle changes to help the environment.
Ortega Ibañez organized the plogging events in two public spaces that have been plagued by litter. In Quezon City, 91 volunteers participated in plogging at the Memorial Circle, a national park encompassed by a traffic circle, while 45 volunteers turned up at the Bayanan Baywalk in Muntinlupa City in a public space alongside Laguna de Bay.
To not only make the plogging more effective, but to also learn more about the proportions of the types of litter in these spaces, Pure Earth had volunteers use a specific-colored garbage bag for each type of litter. Black bags for residual waste such as single-use plastics, stirrers, and plastic bags; green bags for food waste and biodegradable waste; and white bags for recyclables such as PET bottles, cardboard, tin cans and metal scraps.
An objective of the event was to have volunteers identify which types of trash were most common in these areas. In Quezon City, 104.69 kg of materials were collected, consisting of 42.03 kg of non-biodegradable waste (mainly single-use plastics such as bags and candy wrappers, and residual waste such as straws, plastic cups, and cigarette butts), 38.24 kg of recyclables (mainly PET bottles), and 24.43 kg of biodegradable waste. While in Muntinlupa City, 119.2 kg of materials were collected, including 67 kg of non-biodegradable waste, 27.95 kg of biodegradable waste, and 24.25 kg of recyclables.
Volunteer feedback from the event was positive, with participants citing that they enjoyed cleaning up the community and learning more about how pollution affects the environment and health of residents.
Photos courtesy of Daj Dajotoy, HSBC.