Madison man keeping city beautiful while out jogging


Plogging is a recent phenomenon in which joggers pick up litter for a full-body workout while cleaning their streets. 

While plogging is a relatively new initiative for organizations such as Keep America Beautiful, the city of Madison has had its very own plogger for more than a decade in Mark Davis. 

At first, Davis’ efforts began by simply picking up a few bottles while covering his usual Madison Avenue route. 

“I ran the same route every day down the side of the road where all the trash is anyway, and it was very easy to just bend over and pick it up,” Davis said.

Eventually, he was carrying so much stuff that it became easier to run with a plastic bag. 

“I imagine people set things on their bumpers or the tops of their cars,” said Davis, which is how he’s found items such as tools, scissors, mail and watches strewn along the side of the road. 

Nerf bullets are also common and Davis collects those for his family.

“The most money I’ve made is one $5 bill,” he said with a laugh. 

Davis is serious about his morning runs, however. If he finds mail belonging to someone on his route, he’ll drop it off in their mailbox. For larger discarded items, he’ll make a trip back with his car. 

Davis also takes care to separate the recyclables from the garbage to help the environment. He mostly runs along Madison Avenue but also enjoys running down St. Augustine Drive to Strawberry Patch Park. 

Miriam Ethridge, code enforcement officer for the city of Madison who is also chairman of Keep Madison the City Beautiful, noticed Davis’ hobby a year ago. 

“Litter is a big nemesis,” said Ethridge, adding that is why she flagged down city native Davis after seeing him pick up litter on his morning runs. “If we could get a mindset going everyone can make a difference by going the extra mile to pick up litter.” 

Davis also hopes to inspire others to make a difference in their city. Davis stopped picking up trash on his runs during the COVID-19 outbreak but returned to his routine when the trash began to accumulate. 

“It was driving me crazy,” he said. 

More than once, his neighbors have stopped to help him out. 

“One fellow has stopped three or four times to help me when I’m really loaded down,” he said.

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