To continue our One Simple Act movement - we’re featuring stories about promotional products companies doing simple acts to better the world. On Earth Day, our friends Karin and Bill Conrad from 1525, a Portland, Oregon based promotional products distributorship did something awesome. They organized a monthly “plogging” meetup near the Willamette River as part of their #domoregood philosophy.
If you haven’t heard of plogging, it’s an eco-friendly activity that combines running, jogging, or walking with picking up trash, and it originated in Sweden.
A local Portland magazine quickly found out about Karin and Bill’s plogging efforts and published a full page feature in their April issue. We wanted to hear more, so we interviewed Karin about how it all began.
How did your plogging efforts start?
Bill has ALWAYS picked up garbage when he sees it. And we’ve known each other 38 years. We even pick up trash at the beach for our annual anniversary trip. About a year and a half ago I saw a post on Facebook about the Swedish movement. I told Bill about it and it was a no-brainer to get involved. We checked around and found one existing group that was charging people to participate. That seemed kind of silly to us, so we started our own monthly meet up group– no charge -- AND we supply gloves and trash bags to anyone who shows up to help.
How did you get the word out, and how do you recruit locals to join?
We use the meet up website and set up each session as an event in Facebook. Our hashtag is also a clickable link in our email signature lines linking to our #domoregood page. I’ve had customers tell me it inspired them to get involved.
How many people have showed up?
The Nike collaboration has been by far our biggest turnout. We’ve gotten a few a month, and sometimes it is just Bill and myself. But people stop to ask us about it and my hope is that they are doing this on their own.
What’s been the impact? What kinds of trash are you seeing?
We plog along the Willamette River. There’s all types of garbage. The big win is picking up plastic – even small pieces – and keeping it out of the river. As I’m sure you’ve heard, plastic in the water supply is a BIG problem.
Can you share your favorite moment? What’s been the most rewarding part of it all?
Any time someone tells us they read about plogging on our website, or Facebook posts – and that in response they did something in their own neighborhood – we are THRILLED! It doesn’t have to be local to Portland, but to hear people spreading it and taking action on their own is rewarding.
If you read the #domoregood page on our site, you know that a sense of overwhelm and uncertainty as to whether we could make a difference was the catalyst for our movement. The Arthur Ash quote: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – gave us hope. Plogging is one way we #domoregood.
How One Plogging Meetup Spread Across the World
In March, their tiny plogging meet-up group included an employee from Nike. Unbeknownst to Karin and Bill, he was looking for an activity for Nike corporate to participate in for Earth Day.
Next thing they knew, about 100 Nike employees joined the 1525 April plogging meetup group to help clean up downtown Portland. People really got into it, and a lot of garbage was picked up!
A week later, Karin and Bill received an email from the Nike staff member thanking them for organizing the cleanup event. They shared how much it genuinely inspired their team, so much so, that after hearing about the Plog Portland event, Nike teams in China, Japan and Mexico also jumped on board and plogged in their local areas as well.
“We are thrilled! This is what #domoregood is about. Every individual effort makes a difference. That whole ripple in a pond theory. And our ripple even went world-wide this time,” said Karin.
How Can You Help?
The movement is spreading! Let’s keep these efforts going. Want to host a plogging meetup in your home town? It’s easy! You can create a Facebook event or a meetup page, post in local community groups, use free forum and event sites like the Patch or local newspaper and city calendars to spread the word.
Do you have an inspiring story to tell about how you or your company made a difference with One Simple Act? We’d love to hear about it. Write to us here so we can share your story and inspire others to do the same.