Paul Waye is a passionate runner and plogger, which is the act of picking up trash while running. Ever since we first got to know Paul, he has always had this great vibe of positivity around him that makes you want to join him on his journey towards a waste free future.
In his story, we dive into the things that motivate Paul, how he started, and anything else that popped up in a lovely conversation that we had with him over some coffee in his favorite Dutch city, Haarlem.
"More than 10 years ago, I was running along a road in the UK on a beautiful windy road. I was looking in the bushes and I saw so much fast food packaging and single-use bottles. No one ever walks there, so I asked myself the question, if I don’t pick it up, who will? So I picked up some pieces of trash, put a post about it on Twitter and that was the deciding moment when I started."
"Until 2019, I was doing occasional tweets about me picking up trash and I wasn’t plogging daily yet. Then I was invited by Runnersworld to train for a marathon and I thought to myself, wow this is a platform that I can use and spread the word of plogging to a big audience. So since then, I’ve made it my mission to pick up at least one piece of trash every time I go running."
Ever since that first day, Paul has been making an impact in and around the city he lives and loves, Haarlem. Haarlem doesn’t sound like a city which has a lot of trash, but trash can be found hiding in places where people don’t usually look. Paul’s aim to keep Haarlem clean has also inspired others in the city to join him to keep the city clean and beautiful.
He does this by organizing group runs, where there is always an element of fun and awe, like a discorun or a run where he dresses up as a human sized banana. All with the aim to have some fun and grab the attention of people that they pass, which increases the impact of the run even more.
"Sometimes people feel uncomfortable when they see me and sometimes they’re excited, which are both good emotions if you want to create awareness. One day, I was running past two guys who couldn’t look at me. If they could twist their heads like an owl to avoid looking me they would have done it. It was so clear that they felt guilty about me picking up trash. Then just seconds later a kid cycled by and said “great job”. That was such an amazing moment and shows that the awareness is there, but in very different ways."
"I usually plog in the morning, which means I’ve done something good before the workday even starts. The early run is healthy for me and picking up some trash means it is also healthy for the planet, so there’s only positive sides to that. I know that picking up just one piece of trash during that run doesn’t change much, because the next day it might be there again. But if just one person sees me running and thinks about their own behavior, I have made an impact and that feels amazing."
If you want to know more about Paul’s journey or have questions for him, you can follow him on his Instagram, where he regularly posts about his adventures and everything related to plogging.
If you have another inspiring person that you would like to see in our stories, feel free to let us know!