Karin Traeger

Karin Traeger

Chief Executive Officer

AKA: The Plastic Runner

Likes: Vegan icecream, long runs in the trails, fluffy wombats, people who like plogging, sustainable activewear.

Dislikes: People who throw cigarette butts on the ground, unnecessary packaging, marine litter, people who says running is awful (but sometimes it is!).

Favourite Animal in the Yarra Catchment: Blue Tongued Lizard


Behind every environmental organisation, requires a formidable eco-hero at the helm and the YRKA is very fortunate to have ‘The Plastic Runner’ leading the charge.

Originally from Chile, Karin is our head of operations and is responsible for overseeing the management and implementation of our ecological restoration works, as well as the strategic direction as a respected environmental body. Karin holds a Master of Environment; focusing on sustainable fisheries and climate change and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in Wildlife; completing an internship in Costa Rica, attending to Monkeys and Sloths. In addition, she is a qualified PADI Divemaster, Scientific Diver, and Rescue Diver.   These are complemented by courses in Sustainable Packaging & Innovation and Strategy Delivery.

Particularly passionate about aquatic life and fisheries protection, Karin previously worked at Melbourne Seafood Market as the Sustainability Manager and at the Great Barrier Reef as a Divemaster. During the latter, she assisted in the tracking of coral bleaching with the GBR Divers Organisation. It was through this life-changing experience that showed her the real effects of climate change in fragile ecosystems.

During her spare time, she trains as an ultra-marathon athlete and has founded the globally recognised group, The Plastic Runner, a social enterprise that facilitates plogging events to create environmental awareness in local communities. In a bit more than two years, the project has facilitated more than 30 events across Australia, collected about 1,000kgs of litter, and engaged with more than 400 volunteers.

Karin is one Victoria’s most recognised public eco-heroes and her significant contribution to environmental protection both locally and internationally has been recognised by many distinguished outdoor commercial brands, with Karin serving as a current ambassador for Arc’teryx and BOCO. In addition, she was nominated by Clean-Up Australia for the Local Westfield Heroes Award and was a finalist for the prestigious Dame Phyllis Frost Award.

She believes that creating community awareness about issues related to pollution can generate a better understanding and consciousness of how, with little changes, we can have a big effect!


“Everyone can make changes happen. Even if it’s picking up a single plastic bottle, you will be helping wildlife and ecosystems that would be suffering if it was still there. Go for a run, and get plogging!”