Indian ‘plogger’ on mission to clean 30 UK cities

An Indian environmentalist, who founded the world’s first community-led plogging campaign — an eco-movement where people pick up street litter as they jog — is on a mission to clean up 30 cities in 30 days across the UK.

Over the past year, Vivek Gurav and his team of volunteers picked up 5,000 kg of rubbish, including 3,000 kg of plastic, all while out running in Bristol.

“I have only been plogging in Bristol but I kept getting asked by people in Manchester, Leeds, Derby, to come plogging there,” Vivek, a student of University of Bristol, said in a statement.

“So I decided to do a plogging challenge across 30 UK cities,” said Vivek, who started his plogging tour on December 10, beginning with Cardiff and Swansea cities.

The former app developer began plogging in Pune in 2018 and didn’t want to stop when he left India in September 2021, to take up a University of Bristol scholarship. Since then, the 26 year-old has covered 420 miles on 120 plogging ‘missions’, and has been joined by volunteers from 180 countries. His efforts saw him featured on the BBC One Show and pick up the “Points of Light Award” from then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In October, he was invited to 10 Downing Street by PM Rishi Sunak and in November he spoke at COY17 — the youth version of COP27.

Vivek, who is studying for a masters degree in environmental policy and management, said he wants to inspire people so they could “start their own groups”.

“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,” Vivek said in a statement released by University of Bristol. He hopes to be joined by fellow ploggers, environmentalists and keen runners as he visits each city via public transport.

Vivek will be plogging in Derby, Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Birmingham and Worcester. Over the past four years, Vivek’s volunteers in India have collected more than 1,000 tonnes (that’s 1 million kg) of litter.

“I am shocked and deeply hurt after seeing the amount of single-use plastic packaging being done in the UK,” Vivek had said after collecting his “Points of Light Award”, which is presented to “inspirational volunteers who make positive changes to the community”.

“I am not a conventional climate activist. Litter picking is a way I sensitise people and my campaign in India and Britain has been an example of what a community can achieve,” he had said.




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