UK: Indian student’s street cleaning missions inspire ‘plogging’ trend

An Indian student and award-winning environmentalist from the University of Bristol in southwest England has inspired a trend of plogging, or jogging combined with litter picking, across various cities of the UK. 

Vivek Gurav, originally from Pune, was inspired by the Swedish concept of “plogging” – which combines “jogga” (jogging) with “plocka upp” (a pick-up) – to encourage people who use their local streets the most to take pride in keeping them clean. 

In India, he set up a plogging community known as “Pune Ploggers” back in 2018, with over 10,000 members who have collected over 1 million kilograms of rubbish and wanted to continue the trend when he took up his scholarship position at Bristol University in September last year. Since then, his university says he has covered over 420 miles on 120 plogging “missions” joined by volunteers from 180 countries and is now taking the drive to 30 UK cities. 

“I have only been plogging in Bristol but I kept getting asked by people in Manchester, Leeds, Derby, to come plogging there,” said Gurav. 

“So, I decided to do a plogging challenge across 30 UK cities. Ultimately, I want to set-up a UK-wide plogging community like I did back in India. So, if I can go out plogging across the UK, orientate people, give them a blueprint, then they can start their own groups,” he said. 

The former app developer hopes to be joined by fellow ploggers, environmentalists and keen runners as he visits each city via public transport. His plogging across Derby, Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Birmingham and Worcester is being tracked across his social media. 

Earlier this year, his efforts won him the Points of Light Award from 10 Downing Street, which honors people making a difference in their communities. Gurav was recognized for his 250 running challenges across Bristol to tackle litter and bringing together over 140 volunteers to clear over 3,750 kilograms of litter. 

“The award came as a surprise! I believe this award amplifies the cause of climate action that I have been trying to promote through litter picking,” said Gurav. 

The University of Bristol notes that Gurav’s life has changed dramatically since he moved to the UK for his Master’s in Environmental Policy and Management MSc. Such has been his plogging success that Gurav was recently invited to Egypt to speak at the Conference of Youth (COY) 17, the Official Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

Vivek Gurav graduated from his Master’s last month and is working for an environmental consultancy while continuing his plogging missions. According to the University of Bristol, he plans to use the skills he has learnt to help make India more sustainable. 

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