Fun with Waste: Trash Sport

Combining fitness with waste collection is growing in popularity around the globe. In Japan, a sport called supo-gomi taikai involves teams competing to see who can collect as much litter as possible. The inventor of the sport, Kenichi Mamitsuka, would often pick up litter and, in order to make the activity more fun, tried to collect as much trash as possible without extending his exercise time.  He thought making it a sport would make it more enjoyable and set up an organization for the sport.

A typical game could involve any number of participants that meet at a public place. Teams of three to five persons are made and everyone starts at the same location. At the signal, participants race around a pre-set area and pick up trash as quickly as possible in the allotted time. Points are awarded on not just the weight of trash but other qualities. For example cigarette butts have a high point value.

Around 70 participants ranging in age from 6 to 78 were divided into teams of between three and five persons. Everyone started at the same point in a public park, and when signaled to begin they started collecting trash within a 1-kilometer radius of that point. When a player found a piece of trash they called out their discovery, which was not limited by size. In fact, smaller items are often valued more because points are rewarded not just for the weight of the garbage collected, but the type as well, the idea being that certain items, such as cigarette butts, have a higher priority. So just because a team ends up with the most volume of trash at the end of the allotted time, it doesn’t mean they will win.


Kenichi Mamitsuka’s sports organization has, to date, overseen 639 events nationwide and abroad comprising about 76,000 participants.