In Drimnagh, a community group is working to adapt to the current situation by introducing a new form of litter picking to the area: plogging.
A portmanteau combining the Swedish plocka upp (“pick up”) and “jogging”, it combines exercise with cleaning litter.
“It encourages people who are out walking or running anyway to just bring a plastic bag with them and to pick up rubbish as they are going around,” says Eoin Neylon, a member of community initiative Tidy Drimnagh.
“Bags that are collected can be thrown into any of the public bins that are around or into your own waste bin if it is not a major inconvenience,” says Neylon.
But why is plogging being introduced now?
Eye on the Environment
Both Dublin City Council and Tidy Drimnagh have been impaired by public-health restrictions, Neylon says.
“Dublin City Council services are under a lot of pressure having to focus on the Covid-19 response,” says Neylon. “A lot of their services are under severe pressure, as I’m aware.”
And with people staying inside, “it has been difficult to keep community groups like ourselves going,” he says.
“[Plogging] is a handy way of cleaning because our own meetups have had to be cancelled because of social distancing, but we are keen to make sure the area is looking as well as it can,” he says.
People suffering from cabin fever are out taking walks or going for runs anyway, says another member of Tidy Drimnagh, Lorraine Mitchell. “They might pick up three pieces of litter and put them away.”
Tidy Drimnagh would generally do one large litter clean up a month, says Neylon.
Plus, every fortnight, they would have more locally focused litter picks, and they’d usually link up with Inchicore Environmental Group to do cleanups along the canal.
Since things have changed, Tidy Drimnagh is adjusting. “We are trying to maintain as much as possible but while following HSE guidelines,” Neylon says.
Using HSE guidelines is the priority in all of this, Mitchell says. “We still need to keep an eye on our environment while still putting health and safety first.”
These guidelines include staying within two kilometres of your home while exercising, keeping two metres between yourself and other people, not touching your face, and washing your hands regularly.
Dublin City Council has provided Tidy Drimnagh with gloves if people are in need of some, Neylon says.
“Proper health hygiene is a must of course. If anyone is going out, avoid touching their face, wear some form of gloves,” he says. “Gloves is a must, don’t pick up anything without gloves on.”
Tidy Drimnagh group leaders also have litter pickers that people can use, says Mitchell.
Plogging could be a way to look after their neighbourhood, while also looking after their health by getting some exercise, says Neylon.
The hope is that the Drimnagh plogging push might inspire people in the community to get involved with litter picking who haven’t gotten involved before, he says.
“People are looking for an excuse to get out and about, so why not double up on your exercise and get a bit of community spirit while you’re at it?” he says.
It would be great to see extra people come forward while the council and voluntary services are under pressure, Neylon says.
And “it does burn more calories, so that’s an added benefit”, says Neylon.