'Plogging' for a cleaner, healthier future

When eco-fitness enthusiast Ripu Daman Bevli started to pick up trash from New Delhi's streets while jogging a few years ago, people would curiously ask him: "Why are you doing this?".

His response? "You never ask when people litter and you're asking me when I'm trying to clean up."

A pioneer of "plogging" in India, he has been hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his work. His goal is to create a litter-free India.

"Plogging is a fancy term for cleaning up," said Mr Bevli. "It's a combination of two words - jogging and pickup - in Swedish. It is basically people carrying their own gloves and trash bags and picking up litter or trash while they are jogging.

"I introduced the concept in 2017 to my running group and very organically it became 'run and clean up'.

"Now I look to clean up other people's litter."

Mr Bevli quit his tech job to take up plogging full-time. It soon became popular as a way to manage the garbage crisis in India and stay active.

As people began to follow him, their bodies began to get leaner and the surroundings cleaner.

"Initially, my running group couldn't run too fast if they had to pick up litter. So we decided to make it a cool-down activity. Everyone loved the idea," he said.

He now engages schools, educational institutions and NGOs in his clean-up drives.

He has also created a full-body exercise called Trash Workout. "It's holistic because it not only improves your physical, mental and emotional well-being, but it also fights the societal misconception that the trash on the road is not our responsibility," he said. "It is definitely our responsibility.

"So, now we're doing all sorts of lunges, forward bends, squats, deadlifts and so on. Carrying the trash bags activates your shoulders, biceps and triceps. So it is holistic workout."

His movement has now reached more than 80 cities and Mr Bevli was featured on Mr Modi's "Mann Ki Baat" programme.

He was named a FIT India ambassador and was recently named one of 100 Global Impact Citizens by the United States' Global Impact Network.

"My message to people who litter and ploggers alike is that it's not hard to make a change," said Mr Bevli. "Just take one step at a time because small efforts make a big change.

"I believe it is impossible to clean the whole country. We will have to stop littering. It's the most basic civic sense and we all need to follow it."

Indo-Asian News Service


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