The rise of ‘plogging’

For a moment, I thought that my style of running had been given its own name. Halfway between a plod and a jog, the word ‘plogging’ seemed to perfectly describe my slow, awkward gait.

But, while ‘plogging’ does refer to the act of jogging, its meaning is quite different to the one I imagined.

According to OxfordDictionaries.com, ‘plogging’ is a Swedish portmanteau of either plocka upp (pick up) or plocka skräp (pick up litter) and jogga (jog) and refers to an eco-friendly trend that has seen runners in Scandinavia, France, and even Thailand, burning calories and cleaning up their communities at the same time. Instead of running past any litter they encounter on their routes, ‘ploggers’ go out of their way to pick it up, often stuffing it into a bag they’ve toted along for that purpose.

The term ‘plogging’ arose in Sweden in 2016 and is still very new to the English-speaking world. However, there are three reasons which might mean that ‘plogging’ becomes more widely adopted.

  • A growing interest in Scandi lifestyle trends

IKEA aside, the ‘untranslatable’ (and Word of the Year 2016-shortlisted) hygge phenomenon comes to mind, with The Little Book of Hygge, The Book of Hygge and Hygge all distributed in Australia since 2016. Hygge refers to ‘A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’. Similarly, the increasingly popular, lagom, meaning something like ‘neither too much nor too little’ is another Swedish lifestyle word OxfordDictionaries is currently tracking.

The tiny house movement, for example, has enjoyed increased attention over the last decade, offering a solution to the lack of affordable and eco-friendly housing one tiny (less than 500 square feet) package at a time. In Australia, there has been a marked increase in people who want their own tiny house, according to The Conversation. Tiny house groups on Facebook have been appearing since 2013, with original Facebook pages such as Tiny Houses Australia attracting nearly 50,000 followers. Other increasingly popular lifestyle trends include urban farming and solar paneling, to name but a few.

  • A growing interest in running for exercise

Running for exercise, as we know it today, hit the ground running in the 1960s and has been a fairly consistent fitness favourite ever since, with enthusiasm for the sport currently on the rise – particularly in the number of people taking part in marathons worldwide. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of Australians running or jogging as a sport or recreation almost doubled from 2005-06 until 2012.

Plogging’ combines all of these trends neatly, so while it’s not guaranteed a place in Oxford dictionaries yet, a close eye is being kept on the word to see if it takes off, hygge-like, in English.

And in the meantime, perhaps I will attempt to combine my plodding gait with the more sophisticated act of ‘plogging’.


Oxford University Press Australia has a wide range of dictionaries, from the Oxford First Dictionary to the best-selling Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary.

 

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