New Delhi, Sep 21
When eco-fitness enthusiast Ripu Daman Bevli started to pick trash off the streets alongside his jogging regimen, a few years ago, people would curiously ask him 'Why are you doing this?'.
His response? 'You never ask when people litter and you're asking me when I'm trying to clean up'. A pioneer of 'plogging' in India, he has been recognised by the Prime Minister himself. Bevli has an infectious enthusiasm towards creating a litter-free India.
But, what is plogging? "Plogging is a fancy term for cleaning up. It's a combination of two words jogging + pickup in Swedish which becomes plogging. It is basically people carrying their own gloves, trash bags and running and while running whenever they see litter or trash on a road, they pick it up. I started the concept in 2017, when I introduced the idea of clean up to my running group and very organically it became "Run and Clean up". Now I look to clean up other's litter, the coolest thing to do in India and for that we also needed a new cool term; that's when we came across plogging as a term which is becoming popular; we renamed ourselves "Ploggers of India" from the initial "My city, My responsibility" Bevli explained to IANSlife.
Bevli is named the Plogman of India, and he got the idea while sitting in a cafe in Delhi in 2017. It soon led him to quit his tech job to take this up full-time.
Initiated as a cool-down activity for his running group, plogging soon became popular as a way to manage the garbage crisis and stay active. What resulted was not just leaner bodies but cleaner surroundings too. "When I introduced the concept of clean up to my running group, they couldn't help themselves from running and cleaning up but they couldn't run too fast if they have to pick up litter. So, we decided to make this the cool down activity of our running group and everyone loved the idea and concept; that's how it started becoming popular."
He now engages schools, educational institutions, NGO's in clean-up drives, as a way to raise awareness beyond the runners' community.
Over time, he has created a holistic full body workout called 'Trash Workout'. "I say it's holistic because it not just improves your physical, mental and emotional well-being, it also fights the societal misconception that the trash on the road is not our responsibility. I say it is definitely is our responsibility. So, now we're doing all sorts of lunges, forward bends, squats, deadlifts, and so on. Once you've picked up a lot of litter, think of the bags as a trashbell similar to a kettle-bell or a dumbbell and with this you could do a lot of shoulders, biceps, triceps so it is full body holistic workout."
Over the last three years, the movement has reached more than 80 cities, with over 500 clean-up drives and Bevli getting featured on PM Modi's 'Mann Ki Baat' programme and being named a FIT India ambassador. He was recently selected among the world's first 100 Global Impact Citizens by Global Impact Network Inc, USA.
"My message to litterers and ploggers alike is, it's not hard to make a change and the change starts with you. Just take one step at a time because small efforts make big change. I believe we will not be able to clean up the country or our surroundings by cleaning up, we will have to stop littering. It's the most basic civic sense and we all need to follow it. We can all contribute towards the 'Swatch Bharat' by just not littering. We don't have to go out there and clean up."
A lot of their efforts, explains Bevli, go into raising awareness on actionable things that people can do within the luxury of their homes. One such example is a 'plastic upvaas', which is a way to say just start with shunning one single use plastic items from your life and not to get overwhelmed by all the disposable items that you have around you. "So, it's a start and especially in this COVID times we're asking people to shun surgical masks and use reusable cloth masks that can be DIY or brought from the market."
"A pandemic should be no excuse to let plastic or single use disposable plastic into our lives again," signs off the eco-fitness activist.