Trash Running China, Kate & Celina
Last December we had the honour to interview Kees van Rengs, the founder of Plennid (Rotterdam, NL). Why did we interview him? He is in our age and have remarkable ambition and vision. Entrepreneurship is of course not restricted to age or gender, but we hope his story can inspire you, if you are on a similar path! For you to learn more, at the end of the article, there is a 20-minute interview he did with Impact 2025, subbed by us. If you are getting something out of these two interviews, we ( The Panda Tribe and Plennid) are more than happy :).
“We are two girls passionate about running, the nature, our environment and this beautiful country we live in, china!”
🐼：Please tell us more about you two.
We are two girls passionate about running, the nature, our environment and this beautiful country we live in, China:)
👩🏼： I’m Kate from Hungary. I currently live and work in Shanghai, moving here in 2017, after 7 years spent in Taipei, where I studied economics and worked for a local company involved in food import.
I always liked to be out in the nature, but the dragon boat racing community in Taipei was the main reason I absolutely fell in love with an active lifestyle. Despite the super early wake-up calls, exhausting cardio workouts, and weekend training, being outdoors and surrounded by the people and our community was worth all the pain 🙂 Aside from our training, we hiked, ran, cycled, climbed, jumped our way through Taiwan and made friendships that lasted over distance and time.
So, long story short, I was hooked!
Step by step, I got more and more into mountain climbing – that’s what I have been most passionate about ever since.
After moving to Shanghai, I started running, due to the lack of mountains and thus good hiking options. First just a couple kilometers, then (also thanks to a crazy runner friend) more and more. I find running especially rewarding: it’s easy, doesn’t require a lot of equipment, and is a mixture of individual and community sports. I like to be alone with my thoughts on the run, but it’s a lot of fun to socialize before and after training and to prepare for a race together!
👩🏽：My name is Celina and I come from Switzerland. I have been living and working in China for over 4 years, from 2010-2012 in Ningbo and since 2016 in Shanghai.
I am a very curious person and therefore I love to try out new things. I believe that gaining different experiences is the most valuable asset to go through life. It also helps me to figure out what I like and what not so much. 🙂 So, I did the same in sports and tried out many things from gymnastics, kite surfing, cross country skiing, kickboxing and more. Conclusion: I like hiking / running in the nature the most – and it’s what I grew up with in Switzerland. So I am back to my roots. 🙂 Climbing up a mountain, overlooking beautiful nature and breathing fresh air is what makes me feel complete, either together with friends or just by myself. Fresh air is not always easy to find in China, but there is plenty of beautiful nature, which I discovered when I participated in the Hangzhou trail run for the first time in 2016. It was a turning point of my life in China: I started travelling outside of Shanghai on weekends and I go running in the woods, between tea fields and over hills – some parts really remind me of Swiss nature and I simply love it!
🐼：How is your life in Shanghai, China?
👩🏼：I work for a Chinese company, importing and selling foods from Europe. I’m really excited about my new project, which is the launch of a series of health foods! Free-from, green and safe:)
Aside from work and running, I love travelling and learning more about China. There’s so much I want to say, but let’s try and keep it simple:)
I think it is so very important to show the China beyond stereotypes: the land of rich tradition, incredible natural beauty and hard working people. I’m curious about the people, and believe in how we see and approach to others is what we get back, our moves are reflected to us in the simplest situations.
The incredibly rich Chinese cultural heritage is woven into everyday life, language and customs so seamlessly that we tend to forget about it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully understand it as a whole, but it is so exciting to grasp a part of it, and I am glad to share it with others whenever I have the chance.
Traveling across the country gives me that gift, allowing to see the extremes and the most common of China.
👩🏽：Hm…I guess I am very much like Kate, so there is not much to add regarding the exploration of China, it’s vast culture and most interesting people. Every day is different and boredom simply doesn’t exist, which makes Shanghai the perfect place to be – at least for me. 🙂 In regards to my work, I am about to switch my job right now, so I can’t say too much about it yet, sorry. 🙂
🐼：Why did you get the trash runner initiative started?
👩🏼👩🏽：We remember the day very well, it was a cold winter morning in February, just before the CNY holidays. We went for an easy run to West Bund, and just chatted about things, our jobs, plans and future. Somehow, the topic of starting a project together came up – it had to be running related, what else?! We wanted to organize running trips for like-minded people, at the same time create an opportunity to travel and show our countries to the Chinese people – just like how we enjoy traveling in China, it could be done the other way round, right?
Then we got carried away, a week passed and we found ourselves brainstorming and sharing ideas about the project. This is when we thought about initiating the idea of a running club in Shanghai – we could organize runs in the city first, invite our friends and anybody who’s up for a fun, meaningful workout. The idea of picking up trash on the run was just so smooth – why not do it anyway? We both find it very sad and disturbing to see so much trash on the roads and trails across China, but the good thing is that we can change it, on our own! We don’t mean to lecture anybody, but we think it’s important to raise awareness, and city runs perfectly serve that purpose. Sometimes people only need a little reminder, to see that they can do it, too!
Plus, we have to add, once we read that squatting (a.k.a. picking up trash) is an excellent butt-toning workout, we just couldn’t resist haha
🐼：Can you tell us more about the event itself (what, when and who)?
👩🏼👩🏽：Basically, we organize weekly evening runs in various locations around Shanghai. The run itself is an easy, slow 6K: doable for anybody with basic fitness. You are also free to jog/walk some parts: it’s very flexible, and we think it’s important to emphasize that Trash Running is a social group focusing on contributing to our society and environment while also being active.
Once a month, we also have a getaway trip to somewhere further out of downtown Shanghai. This is usually a longer run in the suburbs, or we go to Suzhou/Hangzhou to enjoy actual mountain trails.
We love to co-organize events with other groups, either sport or environment related. So, feel free to reach out for us if you know about something cool happening in your area!
We post about our upcoming events, interesting articles and activities in our WeChat group. You are more than welcome to like our FB page (Trash Running China) as well, and we are just about to launch our YouKu channel as well as other social media platforms.
🐼：What do you want to achieve with this initiative?
👩🏼👩🏽：We love to see happy runners around:) We’d also love to see clean pavements and trails wherever we run! It’s so simple, and easy to achieve, why not join us on the road?
- If only one person watches us and next time thinks twice before throwing away a plastic bottle, we have reached our goal. Think globally, act locally, right?:) We aim for small things, and it’s rewarding to be able to do our own, small part keeping the environment as clean and beautiful as it has ever been. Even though it would mean the end of our Trash runs, the end-goal would be to change people’s mindset, and not to drop any waste in the nature. 🙂
🐼：Are you looking for societal parties to collaborate with, if yes, which one(s)?
👩🏼👩🏽：Yes, definitely. We are currently preparing a corporate/group package. It’ll be presented as a team building trip, for companies who care about their employees health as much as about the environment:) It’d be a blast if we could connect with people involved in the public/private sector!
The other thing we would absolutely love to do is make use of the trash we collect. We are in touch with creative companies and individuals who use various waste material for re/upcycling – We were stoked to see and learn about their ideas and projects, so cool! There is a girl who makes shoes out of plastic herself, and many other driven, enthusiastic people who upcycle T-shirts into bags, make jewelry or furniture (!) out of waste. Even big brands are part of the upcycling culture, which is great to see (e.g. Nike has a store in Shanghai that was built and decorated only with recycled material)! We’d like to grow our scale and create a system in which we’d be able to make use of the trash, for example, collect the waste separately in several locations, with the help and support of local recycling authorities/companies, transport it to certain facilities where it’d be recycled into something usable, a T-shirt, for example – meanwhile keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is to reduce (and not recycle) the waste!
We have many ideas, but that doesn’t mean we are not open for your suggestions! Come and join us, and add your part, ideas to our community:)