The second cousin of Diana, Princess of Wales is set to be Britain’s only representative in the world championships for “plogging” – a sport that combines jogging and picking up litter.
Luke Douglas-Home will set off for Italy as the UK’s sole competitor in the event in Genoa later this week.
The eco-campaigner, who is the Princess’s second cousin, will be competing on Sept 30 in the sport, in which athletes collect rubbish as they jog, attempting to blend a healthy lifestyle with protecting the planet.
The sport’s name combines the Swedish words jogga, meaning jog, and plocka upp, meaning to pick up. In 2016, Stockholm became the first city to hold an organised plogga, and the first world championships took place in 2021.
The competition will see 100 athletes from 15 different nations racing on Parco Delle Mura in Genova, with competitors scored on the distance they run, the altitude they achieve, the weight of the rubbish they collect and the amount of CO2 they save.
Act as clean-up operation
Judges will sort through the collected rubbish, scoring it more highly for waste with a higher CO2 score. For instance, steel will carry a higher score than plastic bottles.
The race time is capped at seven hours and those who finish early score extra points. It ties in with the end of the tourist season and also acts as a clean-up operation for the area.
Mr Douglas-Home said he hoped his efforts would encourage people to try plogging back in the UK. He currently works with schools and other organisations to reduce plastic waste, and is taking an eco-friendly route to the event, using trains, buses and hitch-hiking. He will also wear Vibram shoes for the event, which are manufactured with minimal waste, as well as Waterhaul sunglasses, which are made from plastic recovered from the ocean.
He is also known for his Coastline Runner mission, in which he runs around the entirety of the UK coastline collecting rubbish and meeting local people and councils to urge them to reduce ocean waste.
Since November 2021, he’s run more than 500 miles of the UK’s coastline and collected in excess of 500kg of rubbish.
He said: “I never knew I was plogging – and now I am going to the World Plogging Championships as the only UK competitor.
“Of course, I will be trying to travel there with as low pollution impact as possible, but I hope that I can put the spotlight on the importance of not dropping rubbish, and also collecting it to prevent it reaching the oceans.
“Collecting rubbish and putting it in the bin as I run is a tiny action – something we can all do, and it’s this idea of working together that will have an impact.
“We must see waste reduction as the starting point, not recycling.
“I say to everyone who litters – ‘Pack it in! Put it in the bin!’ and that would stop the need for me running coasts collecting plastic pollution!”