Philadelphia is known for a lot of things. Kickin’ food, cool people, and awesome music are some of the greats. But unfortunately, among those claims to fame is the city’s garbage problem. Long story short, Philly is often a very dirty place, with mismanaged trash and careless litter giving the city a bad name.
However, dog owners across Philly are making moves to change that. Enter dog plogging, an activity in which owners casually pick up trash in their neighborhoods on their daily dog walks.
“Plogging” is a movement that started in Sweden to encourage people to pick up litter (from the Swedish phrase “plocka upp”) while jogging. The practice has benefits aside from cleaning the streets – it adds some different movements to people’s workout routines as they bend, stretch, and crouch to pick up litter.
I first heard about dog plogging (and plogging in general) after Seger Dog Park began encouraging owners to “dog plog” in their Philly neighborhoods. Armed with a spare plastic grocery bag in one hand and a clean dog poop bag on the other, owners can use the dog bag to pick up trash off the ground and place it in the grocery bag for disposal at the end of their walk. Now, the dog park is enticing owners to pick up trash with weekly giveaways – post an Instagram picture of the garbage you gathered with the #DogPlogging hashtag, and you could win prizes from gift cards to free beer.
My dog Dipper and I decided to give plogging a try in our own West Philly neighborhood. I personally seethe with rage when I see litter. However, I’ll admit I probably wasn’t doing my part to make our neighborhood litter go away. Sure, if I was already bending over to pick up after Dipper and a few candy wrappers were nearby, I’d toss them the bag, too, but I never really went out of my to get my hands dirty. But with Seger Dog Park’s suggestion to use a second doggie bag to protect my hands, there was nothing to stop me.
As we spent our first week dog plogging, pieces of litter that we’d walked past for days – maybe even weeks – were now gone. And while I will say it was and still is frustrating to see new trash take its place, I think it’s empowering to realize that all you need to do to make it go away is pick it up again.
One genuine issue I had while dog plogging was what to do with recyclables. I didn’t want to toss plastic bottles and other recyclable litter into the same bag as the garbage I was collecting, but I didn’t want to carry a second bag, either. So, I started picking up trash during Dipper’s morning walk, and recyclables in the evening.
Overall, dog plogging is a great way to feel more connected to your neighborhood as you tidy up a bit – or maybe a lot, depending on how big your trash bag is! Not only that, but it feels good to be part of a different type of community. Dog owners often get a bad rap in Philadelphia, as plenty of them don’t even like to pick up after their own dogs. There’s no doubt that being of the group that goes above and beyond feels nice.