In early March of 2019, we applied for a $250 grant through ExtremeTerrain’s Clean Trail Grant Program. The program provides eligible groups with the opportunity to win grants to fund trail improvement projects, ranging from trail clean-up to trail restoration or even trail network expansion.
When we reached out to ask if hosting a plogging event would eligible for a grant, the response from ExtremeTerrain’s Leah Leitch at was, “I love the idea and you should definitely apply for a grant.” Followed by, “….and I learned a new word today!”
What is “plogging”? It’s as simple as picking up trash while running on the trails and fits perfectly into our 2019 theme – “trail running responsibly.”
By this past spring we received notice that we had been approved for a grant and in July, we obtained some supplies to help make our plogging day a success. The grant money was used to purchase gloves, additional bags and other tools necessary to make the day a safe and fun experience for all the volunteers.
This past Saturday our Outreach & Partnership Specialist Peter Maksimow organized a plogging day in Colorado Springs. As the founder of Pikes Peak Ploggers, Peter was the perfect trail runner to lead this initiative and was joined by several veteran ploggers who coordinated with the Pikes Peak Road Runners monthly trash pickup project. The PPRR volunteers would start at America the Beautiful Park, while Peter’s ploggers would start at Monument Valley Park and the two groups would meet somewhere in the middle over the three-mile stretch of trail.
If you’re new to plogging, here are some important tips you can use when joining an existing clean-up run or to help you create a plogging effort in your own community. Whether starting your own group, or plogging solo, it’s easy to make a difference on your local trails.
- Collecting trash is easy. All you need is a bag (recyclable options are preferred for small items and then transfer to larger bags or a dumpster for disposal), and a good pair of reusable gloves.
- There is more trash on the trails than I would have imagined. Not only is there trash in plain sight, there is also trash just steps off the trail perched in rocks, sheltered in tall grasses and trees, and littering berms.
- Don’t overfill your bag. It’s great if you have someone identified to assist with a wagon or someone along on a group outing to carry a larger bag to transfer contents of the smaller bags. This way you can pick up more trash and be more effective on your plog.
- Recycle while you plog. Better yet, have two bags. One for trash and one for recyclable items (plastic, paper, etc.). It is easier to sort on the go, then sort after you have collected all of the refuse.
- Know that you will get exercise. Not only are you running in between trash pickups, you are also using different muscles groups to bend and extend your arms. It’s truly an outdoor gym experience.
- You will create community and make new friends. Spending time with like-minded individuals and sharing your love of trail running while cleaning up the environment is another positive outcome.
- You will get kudos. Other users on the trail will thank you as they run, hike, or cycle past you. Hopefully your efforts will plant a seed in these individuals and they too will start cleaning up the trails.
- You will have interesting conversations. Ask others what the biggest, the smallest, or the most interesting thing is they collected while plogging. You will be amazed at what you hear on a plogging adventure.
- You will be hooked after your first time plogging. In fact, repeat ploggers mentioned how fun and rewarding it was to pick up trash with a group, and said the experience led them to continue plogging on their own.
What to learn more about plogging? Read how Peter Maksimow included plogging to celebrate his birthday.
There are many ways in addition to plogging to be a more eco-conscious and considerate trail runner.
Finally, don’t forget to check out our national directory of over 200 trail building and maintenance groups.