In Chile, a lawyer and his dog ‘plog’ to raise recycling awareness – Malay Mail

In Chile, a lawyer and his dog ‘plog’ to raise recycling awareness

In Chile, a lawyer and his dog ‘plog’ to raise recycling awareness. — AFP pic

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Monday, 25 Mar 2024 7:53 AM MYT

SANTIAGO, March 25 — It’s still dark out, but Chilean lawyer Gonzalo Chiang and his dog Sam are already out jogging and collecting rubbish in Santiago’s largest park.

Chiang, 38, is on an individual quest to promote the practice of “plogging” — picking up garbage while on the run — in a country where recycling lags far behind the Latin American average.

Chiang and Sam the border collie have been plogging together for two years, pioneers in Chile of a practice invented in Sweden in 2016.

The term — a combination of jogging and the Swedish “plocka,” which means “to pick” — was included as a noun in the Collins Dictionary in 2018.


“Every day, with the daily walking of the dog… one can make a big difference” to the environment, Chiang told AFP.

Chile recycles only 3.1 per cent of its non-hazardous waste, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) — below the regional average of 4.4 per cent.

Chiang keeps a meticulous record of his efforts, which he shares on social media as an encouragement to others to join him.


In 110 weeks, he has run or jogged 4,126 kilometers (more than 2,560 miles) and collected 19,071 plastic bottles and 8,512 aluminum cans.

‘Superhero of the Parquemet’

Chiang and Sam run four times a week, for two hours at a time, mainly in Santiago’s Metropolitan Park, also known as the Parquemet.

Chiang uses a pincer stick to pick up the rubbish which he places in two plastic bags he carries with him on every run.

More goes into a saddlebag carried by Sam, who is also trained to bring cans and bottles to his master.

On the way home, the pair drop off their stash at a recycling collection point.

“The goal is to leave a concrete testimony of what impact one person can make for the common good on a daily basis,” said Chiang, underlining the importance of individual action.

It’s fun and healthy too.

“Exercising with Sam is something that entertains me a lot,” said Chiang, adding that his dog “generates a lot more attention than me” and “gets more hits” online.

Sam’s popularity led to his image being used in a 2022 pamphlet issued by the Metropolitan Park to promote recycling. It named Sam “the superhero of the Parquemet.”

In the latest World Bank report on global waste management in the world, from 2018, Chile was second only to Mexico as the Latin American country that generated the most household waste per capita: 1.15 kilograms (2.53 pounds) per day.

By 2021, the figure had been reduced to 990 grams per person, according to Chile’s environment ministry, as recycling slowly starts to take root. — AFP