BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Several young people from China and abroad are jogging through Beijing's hutong (alleyways) while picking up cigarette butts and bottles with big clamps and recyclable bags in their hands.
They are in a competition of picking up waste while jogging, a team activity organized by Plogging Beijing, a social group focusing on fitness and public benefit for postgraduates of the Schwarzman Scholars program of Tsinghua University.
Miro, 24, born in Hamburg of Germany, is the fastest runner picking up the greatest amount of waste. Upon arriving at the finish line, Miro clapped with his teammates and then began to sort the waste.
"When jogging and picking up waste, I get a chance to enjoy beautiful scenery along these old hutongs. I'm proud to be a member of the team," Miro said.
"Our group was established last year," said Zhang Yashi, organizer of Plogging Beijing. Zhang and his friends enjoy jogging around the Forbidden City at night. Last year, he came across plogging online, which originated in Sweden and combines the Swedish words for "picking up" and "jogging."
"It sounded more interesting than pure jogging, so we gave it a try," Zhang said. On the first night, he and his friends picked up three bags of waste around the Forbidden City, which gave them a sense of achievement.
By posting pictures online, they attracted a small following. "We only had four followers at first, but now we have 700," Zhang said, adding that the activity has become a routine which is launched every week.
Most of the participants learned the activity online, while some of them were passersby attracted by the activity. Recently, some universities and companies have approached Zhang in search of a meaningful team-building activity.
"We have received great support, and some companies even sponsored us in purchasing bags, uniforms, clamps and so on," Zhang said.
To attract more people, new elements such as puzzles, hiking and promotion of waste classification knowledge have been added to their outings. To make the activity safe and efficient, Zhang often chooses places like the paths surrounding the Forbidden City, traditional alleys and parks with few cars and large amounts of garbage.
This time, the activity was held in South Luogu Lane, a famous commercial center in Beijing with a high population density. "The litter we picked up this year is obviously less than last year," Zhang said.
As a fan of outdoor activities, Zhang used to hike in the wilderness where few cleaners venture and trash were scattered everywhere. This May, Zhang organized 22 people to collect trash from a wild mountain he often goes to. "We picked up 44 bags of trash which weighed 110.8 kg," Zhang said.
"I'm really happy that more and more young people can enjoy themselves in this activity," said Zhang.
In recent years, plogging has caught on with young people in some Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou.
For 27-year-old Yang Min, the organizer of the Tsinghua plogging team, the most impressed memory from the activity was a mother teaching her child to throw garbage in a waste bin after seeing Yang pick up a bottle.
"The social influence of the activity is more important than the activity itself," Yang said.