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'Ploggers' get fit and clean up the environment

By Hunter Calder - Videojournalist Waikato, NZH Local Focus | 25 May 2018 07:46


Rubbish littering the streets is all too familiar for keen runner Kim Pickering, so she's doing something about it.

"I've been getting a little bit tired of the build-up of litter in New Zealand," she said.

"Recently I have been noticing it is a little less tidy than it used to be."

Often out jogging in Hamilton, particularly along the Waikato River Trail, Pickering found herself compelled to pick up the litter and make it part of her fitness programme.

Without even knowing, she'd joined an international movement of "plogging" - a portmanteau of jogging and the Swedish phrase "plocka upp", meaning to pick up.

"It's been done in Scandinavia for a fair amount of time. I see it as my way of giving back," she said.

It's fitting for Pickering to pick up rubbish in her personal time, by day she's a composite materials engineer at the University of Waikato, researching environmentally-friendly materials for manufacturing.

"This one is hemp fibre so that is all bioderived and is also biodegradable," she said holding a small packaging sample. "Whereas these other samples would not biodegrade but they're recyclable."

If biodegradable plastics were used more, Pickering said the impact on the environment and to wildlife would be a lot less.

"You can have plastics that are not degrading into a toxic material, plastics are largely carbon and hydrogen.

"Often it's the additives in plastic that can cause the toxic issues and we have a choice in what we put in, so we can look at bio-alternatives if we really need them."

Pickering regularly encountered the results of non-biodegradable plastic on the River Trail near Cobham Drive.

"Biodegradation takes some time, it would be an eye-sore initially. It would be an eye-sore for a lot less time if it degraded.

"I think we could do a lot better in terms of thinking how we deal with our rubbish."

Change would come gradually but for now Pickering was happy to keep jogging with other people's rubbish in hand.

"I would love other people to join in. They don't have to plog, but just be more involved to keep New Zealand a beautiful place.

"If people see other people doing this, hopefully it will encourage others.

"And the more people involved in clearing up the environment, the less people that will be dropping it as well. It could be a win-win."

Pickering sees plogging as an example of "think global, act local".

"I can get my feel-good factor from picking it up. But I'd much rather it wasn't there in the first place."


By: Hunter CalderVideojournalist Waikato, NZH Local Focus

Plogging to keep NZ beautiful. Made with funding from NZ on Air.

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