What is plogging? The Bristol student on a mission to clean up the UK's streets

Vivek started 'plogging' in 2018 and has inspired other volunteers to clean up their streets Credit: University of Bristol/PA

A University of Bristol student who has picked up thousands of kilos of rubbish while jogging is embarking on a tour of 30 UK cities in 30 days.

Over the past year, Vivek Gurav and his volunteers have picked up 5,000kg of rubbish, including 3,000kg of plastic, all while out running in Bristol.

He began plogging – that’s jogging and litter picking – in India in 2018 and did not want to stop when he left his Pune home for the first time in September 2021 to take up a University of Bristol scholarship.

Since then, he has covered 420 miles on 120 plogging ‘missions’, and has been joined by volunteers from 180 countries.

Vivek is beginning a 30-day plogging challenge visiting 30 cities in the UK. Credit: University of Bristol/PA

The 27-year-old is now taking the show on the road – where he hopes to inspire others to set-up plogging groups around the country.

Vivek said: “I have only been plogging in Bristol but I kept getting asked by people in Manchester, Leeds, Derby, to come plogging there.

“So I decided to do a plogging challenge across 30 UK cities.

“Ultimately, I want to set-up a UK-wide plogging community like I did back in India.

"So, if I can go out plogging across the UK, orientate people, give them a blueprint, then they can start their own groups.”

The former app developer hopes to be joined by fellow ploggers, environmentalists and keen runners as he visits each city via public transport.

Over the next week Vivek will be plogging in Derby, Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Birmingham and Worcester.

Mr Gurav’s life has changed dramatically since he moved to the UK to study for an MSc in environmental policy and management at the University of Bristol.

Over the past four years, his volunteers in India have collected more than 1,000 tonnes of litter and he has won an award from then prime minister Boris Johnson and recently spoke at the COY17 conference – the youth version of COP27.

“COY was amazing, a real opportunity,” he said.

“The award from the Prime Minister really motivated me to do more. Now I get asked all the time by Indian people how they can come and study in the UK. They want to follow my path. It feels good to be able to help.”

Mr Gurav graduated from his master’s in November and he is now working for an environmental consultancy while continuing his plogging missions.

He plans to use the skills he has learnt in the UK to help make India more sustainable.