Plog in and Play: University staff and students get active for the good of the environment
University of Sussex staff and students have been picking up the latest Scandinavian fitness trend, which also has a positive impact on the local environment.
More than a dozen volunteers took part in the first official plogging session on the University of Sussex campus on Wednesday afternoon (9 May).
The term 'plogging', the pastime of picking up litter while out jogging, was first coined around 18 months ago in Sweden and it has since travelled around the world, with active ploggers in Australia, India and the US among others.
Student Megan Lloyd, the running activator for Sussexsport, came up with the idea for bringing plogging to the Sussex campus. As a running activator, Megan organises weekly beginner, experienced and social runs alongside one-off events such as Holi Run (a colour run inspired by the Hindu festival of colours), a zombie run and now plogging.
The 23-year-old childhood and youth student said: “I was inspired by my mum to organise the event as we both found plogging online via running social media channels and both really wanted to give it a go. I was given the opportunity to organize one more event with Active US before I graduate, so I thought it was a great chance to get the University involved on a larger scale with the Active US scheme and to also do some good for the environment.
“This event is initially a one-off but with the level of interest shown from both students and staff then there is the possibility that plogging could become a more regular activity in the next academic year.
"Even around our own campus, which always looks really pristine and relatively litter free, we found plenty of litter once you started looking hard. We know there are other parts of Brighton and Hove that could benefit from our ploggers’ energy and passion for litter clearance such as the beach after a busy, sunny weekend.”
Participants were given gloves and bin bags before setting off on a three-mile loop around the University’s historic campus on the lookout for any litter that may have gone astray.
Marc Slowey, Participation Coordinator at Sussexsport, said: “Active US offers students a variety of non-competitive, low commitment, low-cost, drop-in activities and we try and offer as broad a range of options as possible including bouldering, beach volleyball, UV sports, stand up paddleboarding, and kayaking.
"Plogging is a great way to get fit but with the added bonus of doing a good deed and helping to clear up litter. Our beautiful campus is a great place for a run and, at any point of the day, you’re likely to see students running around it. If plogging catches on, the sight of runners with bin bags in their hand will soon become much more common.”
Go Greener at Sussex
The University of Sussex has begun an ambitious journey to become one of the greenest universities in the UK and is working towards cutting its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2020.
The University, which is home to some of the world’s leading sustainability academics, is engaged in a multi-million pound programme which has already seen more than 3,000 solar panels fitted on 29 buildings - the largest solar project in the UK higher education sector.
Go Greener will also involve the replacement of 27,000 light bulbs with more efficient LED lighting, improved heating and cooling systems, and the installation of smart metering across the campus.
Over the next two years the University will be looking to replace current energy systems with more sustainable alternatives, with the aim of becoming one of the most energy-efficient universities in the UK within the next ten years.