Have you heard of plogging? It’s a term that stands for picking up litter while jogging and it’s sweeping the globe! This fall, the Back to the Sea Society decided to launch a Plogging Challenge, inviting people to help us keep the ocean trash-free! With land-based trash making up 80% of the litter found in our ocean, picking up what we see as we stroll around our province’s coastlines, cities and neighbourhoods, we can make a large impact. We had 11 ambassadors join this challenge, 9 from Nova Scotia and 2 from British Columbia, allowing us to spread our impact and clean up from coast to coast! Here to tell you her experience with the challenge is Jenn.
It was a solid and enthusiastic “YES” when Back to the Sea asked if I would be interested in being an ambassador for the “Plog for the Sea Challenge” during the month of October. The challenge was created in order to raise awareness and funds for the Society and their projects like the Touch Tank Hut, all the while helping to keep our oceans cleaner. My natural attraction to the ocean, appreciation for nature, and love of anything that gets my creative juices flowing, meant the decision was a no-brainer. The challenge parameters were pre-set for each participant: a goal to raise $200 by plogging for ten minutes for ten days during the month of October.
We kicked off the challenge on October 2nd, with a portion of the participants meeting at Back to the Sea’s Touch Tank Hut located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. We plogged along the Dartmouth waterfront and found heaps of straws, styrofoam, and piles of plastic packaging. After ten minutes, we had filled three full reusable bags collectively! Although this was a heartbreaking realization of how littered our environment is, it was also very encouraging to see how much we had accomplished in such a short time.
I could immediately envision the positive spin and fun I could have with this challenge while doing the dirty work. I wanted to share this plogging journey as much as possible, to show how easy it is to make a difference, and did so with documenting every single plog using my personal and project social media stories and highlights.
During my plogging adventures, I was sharing before and after photos and videos along with commentary on what I was observing and collecting the most (cups, plastic water bottles, straws, cigarette butts, plastic bags, styrofoam … plastic, plastic, and more plastic!) While I was feeling defeated by the amounts of litter found, I was also heart-warmed to have notifications piling up in my inboxes. People, most that I have never met before, were writing words of encouragement, and thanks and appreciation. Some even suggested locations to check out, some with possible solutions to some of the noted problems, and best of all, some that wanted to join me (and they did).
Not only were people filling up and overflowing my feed with messages and donations, my heart was filling up with a new-found hope. We CAN do this!
We, as humans, are creating this mess. The positive side is that we can change our lifestyles little by little to decrease and hopefully eliminate the dirty footprints we’re leaving behind. We can do so by being more aware of the items we use the most and by shifting towards reusable, biodegradable, and plastic-free options as much as we can. We can also partake in clean-ups more often and voice our concerns to our local government representatives. I saw with my own eyes, in messages, high fives, hugs, donations, beeps and waves from cars driving by, that clearly there is a community of caring environment lovers, and together we blew this challenge out of the water!
We, as a Plog for the Sea community, have raised awareness and have gone above and beyond the initial fundraising goal of $2,500 to a whopping $3,600! Funds that will help support more ocean education and conservation efforts.
Back to the Sea’s challenge may have ended on Hallowe’en, but the environmental concerns and challenges remain. I, personally, am fully committed to continuing to educate myself and doing my part from this day forward. I hope to encourage and inspire others to make changes happen. Think globally and act locally – big or small, it all counts!
Sea you out there <3
Jenn Currie works with the Faculty of Science at Dalhousie University. Currently living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, she grew up in this province exploring nature. Jenn is also a SUP tour guide at Sup Monkey Cycle on Lake Banook and volunteers for the Nova Scotia Bird Society, We Day, and Feed Nova Scotia. This year she created Making Waves, a project that supports organizations that work on ocean and freshwater conservation. Passionate about the outdoors, you’re likely to find her surfing, snowboarding, SUPing, biking, camping, hiking… or plogging!