Camping in the woods and exploring the wilderness is what most city dwellers, jaded from the everyday monotony of their routine lives, consider as the perfect escape. Far away from the daily rush hours and noises of the concrete jungle, reconnecting with nature is sometimes all that is needed to give one a sense of purpose and being.
Sadly, the once pristine, green environs untouched by the throes of modern civilisation, have now begun to spew out large traces of plastic in the recent decades—thanks to the devil-may-care attitude of tourists who not only dump their waste indiscriminately, but also have a lack of basic awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic in the environment.
Jarred by the extent of plastic penetration in nature, many individuals and non-profit organisations across the world have consciously come forward time and again to conserve the environment and have quite successfully managed to tidy up trashed spaces through cleanliness drives and walks.
But have you ever heard of Plogging, a Scandinavian trend that originated in Sweden in 2016 and is already being hailed as the “most 2018 fitness trend” across the globe, where one goes jogging and picks up the litter he or she finds along the way?
Coined from the Swedish phrase ‘plocka upp,’ which means to pick up, one could argue that people have been doing clean up activities similar to plogging way before the term even came into existence. However, never before has any ‘fitness’ trend that is both beneficial to one’s health and environment garnered so much limelight in such short span of time.
Jacob Cherian, a digital entrepreneur from Bengaluru, is a self-professed nature lover and a travel enthusiast, who has been picking up trash strewn across the natural trails that he had trekked across, for the past two years.
‘The Misty Mountain Hop’ is his homestay nestled amidst the Kodaikanal hills, which began as an attempt to create a utopian space to escape urban life through camping and recreational activities amidst the natural precincts with ‘minimal disturbance to nature and neighbours.’
“So, I used to clear the plastic wastes on my treks and walks in the region on a regular basis and post it on social media. Many people used to show interest in joining me in my crusade. When I saw how plogging was emerging as a viral eco-lifestyle trend last month, I thought of hosting a similar drive in Kodaikanal inviting people not just to pick up trash but also have a camping experience at Mountain Hop,” says Jacob, who hails from Kerala to The Better India.
And within 24 hours, Jacob created a Facebook event, The Plogging Party, scheduled from March 30 to April 1 that would appeal to a lot of travellers and families aiming to head out for the upcoming Easter weekend. Soon enough, the event found support from Camp Monk, an online camping startup and Jacob states that he has registered ten volunteers up till now.
Spread over 3 days and 2 nights, the party includes gourmet food made from local produce and has some interesting programmes lined up for the campers, besides hiking up & down the hill to scour it clean of plastic bottles, wafer packets and every type of modern trash.
“I would like to inspire locals and city dwellers to make it fun to help clean up the mess that others have made. This is especially important as Indians, as I believe that in an inherently caste-based society, we have become too comfortable with other people cleaning up for us. The Plogging Party is an attempt to take this role back into our own hands,” the 35-year-old explains.
Costing between ₹4500 and ₹6500 per person, you can choose between bringing your own tents and bedding or using the ones supplied at the homestay and even bring your pets along. To encourage families with young kids to be part of the event, Jacob has made it a point to keep it free for kids up to 8 years of age.
Though the plogging party is first of its kind in India, Jacob mentions that he isn’t the first person to lead the eco-fitness trend in the country.
“Many people across the country reached out and appreciated the idea after I’d created the event page, stating they were also conducting similar plogging initiatives around the same time. It is great to know that there are many like-minded individuals out there who sincerely care for the environment and are partaking in conservational activities out of their own accord,” he adds.
Following the plogging drive at Kodaikanal, Jacob intends to extend similar de-littering initiatives on a monthly basis and is currently working on carrying out one soon in Kattanam, his mother’s hometown in Kerala.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)