VIZAG: With the simple aim of cleansing Pune’s polluted rivers to improve access to clean drinking water and reduce reliance on bottled water, he launched what is called the ‘plogging’ movement in 2019. Vivek Gurav, also known as ‘Plogman’, is now recognised as a prominent climate activist. Plogging involves picking up litter while jogging.
“When I faced the need to purchase drinking water daily due to polluted rivers, I realised the importance of addressing the root causes. While many acknowledge the current environmental crisis, they often struggle to translate concerns into action. There is a desire for innovative daily solutions, but the need for simplicity in addressing them is equally significant. This led me to combine cleanliness with jogging, promoting both personal health and environmental well-being. I had no idea this simple concept would inspire others to do the same, driving positive change in our communities,” he recalled.
Since its inception, Vivek and fellow ploggers have gathered more than 5,000 tonnes of trash over 2,500 drives worldwide. What began as a modest initiative in Pune in 2019 now encompasses over 30 cities in the country.
Vivek, who moved to Bristol to take a master’s course in environmental policy and management, also started plogging on the streets of the UK. In recognition of his volunteer work for societal change, Vivek received the ‘Points of Light Award’ from former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In October 2022, he visited 10 Downing Street at the invitation of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. A month later, he delivered a speech at COY17, which is the youth counterpart to the COP27 climate summit.
“After residing in both India and the UK, I have observed a comparable amount of litter on the streets in both locations. The primary distinction lies in their waste management practices,” said Vivek. Currently, on a 30-day journey through South India, Vivek is using his platform to advocate responsible tourism. He engages in plogging at various tourist destinations in southern states such as Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana and emphasises the importance of maintaining cleanliness around the sites. Vivek’s journey through South India also attempts to draw attention to and protest poor working conditions faced by sanitation workers. He conducts cleanups without gloves to highlight this issue and inspire others to take action to address environmental issues.