05 Sep 2018 Story Cities and lifestyles

Marrakech’s youth take a run at cleaning up the city

Association Mawarid / Khalid Benfanich

Picking up trash is not thought of as fun, let alone cool. Yet, Yassine Zegzouti, a young sustainability expert from Marrakech, Morocco, has found a way to make it trendy. Founder of the environmental non-profit organization Association Mawarid, he is working with UN Environment and the One Planet network on promoting sustainable living in Morrocco. Throughout the summer of 2018, he ran the Be Cool, Be Sustainable campaign to engage young people in Marrakech and organize sustainability-centred activities.

Picking up garbage was one: in July, about 40 young women and men put on running gear, rubber gloves, trash bags and brought high spirits for Marrakech’s first ever plogging event. Collectively, they gathered more than 30 bags of garbage.  

Ideated in Sweden, plogging combines jogging and picking up trash. It is a fun, active and engaging way to raise awareness, connect people to their environment – and pick up some trash.

In July 2018, 40 people took part in a plogging event in Marrakech, organized by the Be Cool, Be Sustainable campaign. Photo by Association Mawarid / Khalid Benfanich

Running is a sport practiced at many levels – there is the casual weekend jogger, the daily fitness runner, the marathoner and everything in between. But no matter the intensity or frequency, running is almost always an excuse to be outdoors and enjoy the environment. And trash is never welcome on a runner’s trail!

“People loved plogging,” says Zegzouti, “because of the connection between sport and environment. Many participants have begun regularly plogging with their friends.”

Sustainable living is about making better daily choices around energy, food, mobility and waste. This can be difficult, particularly when people do not know their options or if these choices require deviating from well-established habits or social norms. For young people, it is cooler to show off a new car rather than high-tech running shoes or a fancy bike. Without a mentality change, adoption of sustainable lifestyle choices will be slow.

“Sustainability is a challenge that affects everyone in all global contexts. It's important to raise awareness of sustainable lifestyles in a way that's fun and engaging, especially for youth,” explains Zegzouti. “The Be Cool Be Sustainable campaign is how this is being done in Morocco.”

Plogging in Marrakech is part of a larger project on sustainable lifestyles in the workplace. This project was selected during the first phase of the Trust Fund of the Ten-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP). The One Planet network was formed to implement the 10YFP. Learn more about its new global fund for SDG 12.


For more information on UN Environment Global Sustainable Lifestyles, please contact Garrette Clark: garrette.clark[at]un.org