On Tuesday morning, Bhagyamma, a pourakarmika from Dasarahalli in Bengaluru, occupied a quiet spot outside Mahatma Gandhi Park in the city.
She was on a day off from work and replacing her, were hundreds of volunteers who turned up in different areas of Bengaluru to remove waste and plastic materials from roads. "We don't have work today but since this is what we do every day, we arrived here to help volunteers who were picking up waste from the streets," says Bhagyamma, looking on pensively at the volunteers.
The group of volunteers had gathered at the Mahatma Gandhi Park on MG Road to take part in the 'Plog Run’, which combines running with the need to pick up plastic waste. The concept was popularised in Sweden when joggers picked up trash along the way as a work-out trend.
The concept has now made its way to Bengaluru after volunteers who gathered at 54 locations in the city, aimed to create awareness among citizens about responsibly disposing plastic waste.
Starting at 7 am from MG Road, the 'ploggers' covered 3 km through Church Street and Brigade Road, before circling back to their starting point, all the while chanting the five R's - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Remove. At MG Road, the run was coordinated by Sunil, a volunteer. "Gandhi was one of the first ploggers since he advocated for cleanliness. There are crusaders everywhere in this city and we wanted to bring them together today to spread the message of cleanliness. I don't want just a mayor or a minister to take action. I want to take action myself and that is why I am here," he says, even as he bends down to pick up pieces of plastic strewn on MG Road.
The event was organised by various like-minded organisations including Go Native, Namma Nimma Cycle Foundation and the non-profit group 'Let's Be the Change'. The group had previously organised a similar 'plog run' to Nandi Hills in which a group of 35 people had collected 110 bags of plastic while jogging.
According to Ramakrishna Ganesh, Chief Mentor of the Bengaluru Plog Run, this time the group hoped to spread the message of detoxifying Bengaluru's localities. "We want people to grasp that there is no harm in picking up trash; their collective effort will drive home this message. Plogging also becomes a workout for the body as it requires one to bend down or squat to pick up waste as one is running," he says.
His words were echoed by Subhash Chandra, a resident of Wilson Garden in the city who turned up as a volunteer. "The filth we see is happening because of us and we have to change this ourselves. We cannot keep cribbing about how the government is not keeping the streets clean," he said.
The group is aiming to set a Guinness World Record for collecting the highest amount of plastic after over 5,000 people registered to take part in the event.
The run was also attended by BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, BBMP Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun and pourakarmikas from several wards in the city, among others.