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Pandemic Silver Linings: Rediscovering & Reinvigorating Our Passion For The Environment & Helping Others

Cooper at Dow's Lake
There has been a lot of solo time in the pandemic. What is a people person like Cooper doing to stay connected?

It would be ridiculously obvious to point out that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a tremendous sense of loss through lack of contact with others, but if we take a bit of a deeper dive, many people also miss the way it makes them feel about themselves when they are able to contribute to the lives of others.

In a formal sense, we often talk about this as “volunteering” but alongside of that critically important part of what makes a civil society great (organized forms of contributing to organizations that help others through direct and indirect support), simply going about our lives in ways that directly and indirectly benefit others is also important to everyone.

For some people, they simply aren’t having a good day if they haven’t spent a bit of their time doing something good, whether they do so on their own, or gather with others, whether it is a direct gathering, or they are a part of a movement of people that are doing something together, even if they are not in the same physical location.

Cooper collects trash
Can picking up trash fill your heart? Maybe so!

This is starting to sound a bit complicated, but let’s put it in real terms – what if you went for a walk every day, as so many people do – but you brought a reusable container of some sort with you, and as you walked, you picked up any garbage you saw, put that into your container, and then emptied it into the recycle bins and trash bins? Without a doubt, this would help all the people, plants, and animals in the community where you find the trash, and of course, by cleaning up the environment, it helps everyone else too. It really is as simple as that. All that needs to done is to actually do it. Well, it turns out a lot of people already do this, and it’s a “thing” called plogging!

Plogging is a combination of jogging with picking up litter (merging the Swedish verbs plocka upp (pick up) and jogga (jog) gives the new Swedish verb plogga, from which the word plogging derives). It started as an organized activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution. About 2,000,000 people across the world have incorporated plogging into their daily lives, but it is also popular as type of event, often with a theme, where people get together and plog in a particular neighbourhood or route.

One of the local champions of the plogging movement is the Fjallraven outdoor clothing and equipment store in Westboro. They support plogging events but in a more general sense, they have a passion for outdoor activity and healthy environment for all. With some support from LiveWorkPlay’s Community Connector Ron Kok to get set up, Cooper has been an enthusiastic participant in plogging events, and is well known to the team at Fjallraven.

On June 12, In Town and Out with Giacomo Panico (on CBC) did a fun and informative interview with Fjallraven. The store was thinking that Giacomo might like a souvenir from his adventure with them, but he suggested instead that he’d love to see that honour to go to a plogging enthusiast, and it wasn’t long before Cooper found himself with a brand new Kanken Art 21 backpack!

Cooper at the store
Cooper is with Tara Hamilton, store manager, and Cindy Jones, assistant store manager. They are holding the new designs for the Kanken Art 21 backpacks, designed by artist Linn Fritz, to increase awareness of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

To learn more about plogging we encourage our readers to listen to the story on CBC. If you are feeling a bit disconnected and especially if you are missing out on the full heart that comes from helping others, it is well worth a listen. It is exciting to get back to things like shopping, dinning, and entertainment venues, but hopefully something we can carry forward from the pandemic is the reminder that we only get one chance at this life, we only have one earth to live on, and our role here is not just as consumers – we are also caretakers – or we can be if we choose to be.

Plogging on the radio