MARC Water Quality, and a host of partner organizations will hold this year’s KC Plogtober on Sunday, October 16. The program’s goal is to get local volunteers to appreciate their local watersheds more by realizing that the litter on the heavily-trafficked public-use ground eventually winds up in our streams and rivers. “Plogging” is a Swedish concept that translates to picking up litter while jogging.
Registration for volunteers is open now. Be sure to visit KCPlogtober.com for more information and to sign up. Each county will have multiple streamside trails and public greenspaces to choose from, or volunteers can go solo and pick a location close by for a “virtual plog”.
“Volunteers in Johnson County went above and beyond for the 2021 virtual plog,” said Ian Fannin-Hughes, Water Quality Specialist for Johnson County Public Works and “Team JOCO” captain. “Both small and large groups showed up to make meaningful impact for our community’s parks.” Team JOCO ran away with the “Top Plogger” distinction last year, bringing nearly 70 people out for the day’s event (a third of which participated in smaller virtual plogs around the county).
The impact of litter-free parks and trails goes beyond keeping contamination out of our local watersheds.
- Intervening to reduce disorder in public open spaces contributes to their perceived safety and therefore public use.
- Although greater use of public natural spaces (or shared “cultural ecosystem services,” as identified in one study) benefits the feeling of connectedness as well as the physical and mental health of nearby communities, the perceived degradation or disrepair of that space is a negative contributor to well-being.
- Property values increase within close proximity to frequently-used, well-maintained public greenspaces. Businesses often decide to locate in communities with these amenities, especially with well-maintained greenspaces deterring property crime.
“As resident volunteers clean up litter along trails, parks, and greenspace, we start a new tradition that instills the importance of maintaining the natural beauty of our environment,” says Jing Tao, Environment Manager for KC Water and KCMO Urban Core captain. “The event combines maintaining a healthy lifestyle with maintaining a space for posterity to enjoy. And our communities are all connected…we, as a region, are doing our part to reduce one common pollutant in the larger river sytem.”
In 2021, the grassroots event organized a total of 118 volunteers across six counties. Organizers hope that the idea of “plogging” catches on outside of the event, and stress that you don’t have to be a runner to plog. MARC Water Quality program director Synthia Isah says, “It’s about being prepared with protective gloves or eco-friendly dog bags always on you, so you can pick up your community greenspaces whenever you can.”