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Plogging through #SpringCleanScotland

A blog post by Misha T

As #SpringCleanScotland 2024 continues, Misha shares her litter picking journey which began with a run and now includes a sled, plogging and thousands of single-use vapes collected.

I started running every day in December 2019. I was genuinely shocked at the amount of litter along all of the routes which I took. Running literally gave me a bird's eye view of the extent of the problem right across our towns, woodlands, villages, beaches and road verges. More than that, I was absolutely devastated when I saw the damage it was doing to nature and wildlife. Seeing small mammals and other wildlife suffering terrible injuries and death because they became stuck in our litter was too much to bear.

I made a pledge to pick up litter every time I was out running. Plogging, as it is known, has enabled me to combine my two major passions in life: health and fitness and my love of nature and wildlife.

For those who want to take plogging a step further it is suggested that you make a full squat every time you pick up an item. Believe me, once you have made a squat to pick up a few hundred cigarette butts you don’t need a trip to the gym! It is also really good for improving mental well-being and reducing stress levels too as you have to focus on the task in hand.

Running with heavy bags can place a strain on the body in many ways though so I was really pleased to hear that Sustrans provided funding for a sled in 2023. This has enabled me to increase the amount of litter I can collect from the cycle paths, walkways and beaches between Arbroath and Monifieth. The great thing about the sled is that that I can pull it using a harness so it doesn’t put unnecessary strain on any particular area of the body. I use my full body weight to drag it along which is a recognised strengthening exercise. Who needs the sled pull exercise at the gym when you can do the real thing outdoors and help clean the environment at the same time?

The other thing I have learned is that I can strengthen the muscles and ligaments around my knees when I pull the sled by walking backwards even uphill. This is a great exercise and has definitely helped to strengthen my knees over recent times.

I have taken part in many Keep Scotland Beautiful Clean up events but the sled enables me to collect far more than I would normally be able to do. I hope too that it influences others to get involved and at least pick up a few items when they are out and about.

In addition to all my plogging I also work with other groups and individuals to tackle litter hot spots and raise awareness about littering issues.

I often use photography and social media to illustrate litter types and encourage people to think about sources of litter. I have a number of plans for clean up activities throughout #SpringCleanScotland event so I am looking forward to whizzing about with the sled.

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