Meet 24-year-old Vivek Gurav, a software engineer by profession, who initiated plogging in Pune in June 2019 and now runs Pune Ploggers, a community of environment conscious citizens dedicated to cleaning the city.

I always feel the need to work on the ground instead of just blaming the system and government through social media. Change needs participation and I’m trying to be the change maker”, says 24-year-old Vivek Gurav, a software engineer by profession who along with his friends and colleagues made it their mission to clean up the city.

Plogging: Pick and Jog!

Vivek who has been participating and conducting various clean-up and beautification drives in and around Pune for the last six years decided to undertake plogging and make Pune plastic-free and a sustainable place to live in. 

Plogging is a concept that was originally introduced in Sweden, refers to picking up trash while jogging or running. When you squat to pick up plastic waste while running, you are exercising every bit of the body, it’s like instead of hitting a gymnasium, and you are working towards creating a better environment and also getting the best effect of working out.

You do not have to set a separate plan to do it and can be a part of any routine activity you do on the streets. Multitasking – is the KEY and it saves nine!

How it started?

With a quest to solve the trash problem, in June 2019, Vivek along with his few techie friends undertook 10 plogging drives on a pilot basis. During this initiative, the team observed that it was fun to pick up waste while you jog or run unlike usual clean-up drives which are often dull affairs. Contended with the citizen participation and outcome of plogging drives, in September 2019, Vivek officially launched Pune Ploggers.

Pune Ploggers and the basic idea of plogging was an attraction for many citizens, thanks to the flash floods (heavy rainfall) which affected many slums and societies. Water wasn’t flowing through the drainage as they were being blocked by plastic and alcohol bottles filled with silt and mud.

How do Pune Ploggers Operate?

They fix the spots for upcoming plogging runs in advance and create events on their social media handles. People who wish to join can register or join them directly on spot.

Different areas in the city are covered every week to reach out to a larger audience. Vivek has personally travelled to places where people need a basic orientation to start a plogging movement on their own. They have teams in different cities like Dehradun, Mumbai, and Kolhapur and are connecting Ploggers from different cities now and trying to come up with simultaneous Plogging Runs to raise awareness about Health and Plastic Pollution Crisis. 

Recycle, Reuse and up-cycle the collected waste:

It’s been almost nine months now that Pune ploggers are thinking into various zones of recycle, reuse and up-cycle of plastic waste and waste management techniques. Pune ploggers collaborated with Recycle, a private firm which is generating money out of waste and Charity Company like Adar poonawalla in order to send the waste they collected into processing units instead of sending them to dumpy yards. They also had tie up with the local recycles (Bhangarwala) who take up all the glass bottles of beer & alcohol, plastic bottles so that they generate some money through selling them to the recycling units.

While ploggers do plogging they find a lot of plastic materials in the waste like caps of bottles, beads and other small pieces of plastic these are further given to the women  for up cycling and they make jewelry out of it and generate some income to their family as well.

Pune ploggers initiatives in COVID19 Pandemic:

Pune Ploggers had installed “trash banks” in different societies where people can deposit any household items which they don’t use for a long time. People’s reaction towards trash banks is quite positive and these waste materials from trash banks are redecorated and used as a decor or any useful item so that those waste don’t end up in trash. “We think of the second life of the product so that we can use it as much as possible as we can” says the founder of Pune Ploggers – Vivek Guarv.

Pune ploggers also have done a mass awareness program on single use of masks, about PPE kits. So pune ploggers have suggested to go with the sustainable way like all the things made of cloth so that no plastic masks go into the trash which further will increase the spread of diseases. There were few NGOs who were manufacturing cloth masks so Pune ploggers have connected common people to the manufactures to increase sustainable products in  people’s life during covid19 pandemic.

Impact till date :

Pune Ploggers has completed 125 plogging drives. They have collaboration with Local Trash Collectors and Pune Municipal Corporation Solid Waste Management department who have been helping them in recycling the plastic collected. Other waste is sent for composting and further treatment. Pune Ploggers has collected over 70,000 kg Plastic till now which itself is a huge collection.

Their efforts were recognized by the Embassy of Sweden in India, Mann Ki Baat Team, Pune Municipal Corporation, All India Radio (Akashwani)-Pune and many other media channels. Pune ploggers are also planning to collaborate with Government of India and do the plogging sessions to raise awareness on single use plastic and fitness on Pan India basis in the future days.

Vivek wishes this becomes a collective effort of all the stakeholders and turns into a mass movement with public participation.

Vivek’s message to the youth of this country is  that “Youth should start thinking and start implementing in the direction of sustainable living because we can see the use of single use plastic is increasing rather than decreasing ,we see youth raising their voice but yet we don’t see practical solutions coming out.”