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The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Plastic in 2020

41 tips from adidas and Reebok employees that will give you a green start to the new year by avoiding plastic.

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The adidas Sustainability Series

It’s 7:00am. You peel away the covers and slide into your polyester slippers. In the bathroom you pull aside the plastic shower curtain and hop in, picking up the plastic body-wash bottle on the way. Next, your plastic toothbrush gets a dollop of minty gel from a plastic toothpaste tube, and finally you brush your hair with a plastic hairbrush. It’s 7:15am. In the first 15 minutes of your day, plastic has been a part of every single one of your actions.

It sounds bleak.

Should we just accept the fact that attempting to go plastic-free is too difficult? Absolutely not. We now have a plethora of plastic-free solutions readily available to us.

When we asked our employees at adidas and Reebok for their tips on how they avoid plastic in their daily lives, the response was overwhelming. Hundreds of ideas came in from those working at our offices, in our stores and at our logistics centers around the world, showing us that anyone can play a part in tackling the problem of plastic waste. Taking examples solely from their feedback, we’ve created the ‘Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Plastic’ – a step-by-step guide to going plastic-free every day.

Morning routine

1. Rise and Shine

Choose slippers made from bamboo. Bamboo is an all-natural, sustainable resource that allows air to pass through easily, leaving your feet cooler, supporting your posture and helping the environment!

2. Bathroom drill

Clean your teeth with conscience: Use a bamboo toothbrush and make your own toothpaste from baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint essential oil. Dental floss made from silk twine is now widely available.

3. Au naturel products

There are many easy recipes online that you can use for inspiration. Alternatively, you can look for brands like Lush that avoid packaging – they save nearly 6 million plastic bottles from just selling shampoo bars!

Soap bars on the counter of the store.avoid plastic, sustainability, habits and routines, inspiration, GamePlan A.
Raise the (shampoo) bar. ©puhimec/Getty Images

4. Say hello to responsible suncare

Antje from Merchandising suggests trying a bio-based sunscreen. For example, Avasol crafts organic skin and sun care products using environmentally conscious methods. No more toxic chemicals on your skin and no more plastic waste – a win-win.

5. Dress to impress

Sustainable fashion is in. Many brands are now making clothes out of recycled plastic or natural materials. adidas is turning ocean plastic into high-performance sportswear with the Parley collections, while Reebok’s Cotton + Corn sneakers are made of 75% bio-based materials.

Reebok Cotton+Corn Sneaker. Avoid plastic, sustainability, habits and routines, inspiration, GamePlan A.
Made from things that grow: Put sustainability in your step with Reebok’s Cotton + Corn sneakers.

6. Make fashion a force for good

adidas’ partnership with Fashion for Good, an Amsterdam-based global platform and start-up incubator, aims to promote sustainable innovation in the apparel industry. Check out the Experience, their interactive museum, to up your sustainable fashion game.

Starting your day

7. Breakfast for champions

You can take the empty containers back to your local farmer’s market for refills or just use them as vases and pen pots. Enyu, our colleague working in the Social and Environmental Affairs team, says you can even start making your own yoghurt!

8. Good for your body and the planet

Andreia working in Finance and IT and Sabine in Internal Audit suggest that you should choose muesli, cereal and oats that come in paper packaging when you’re buying breakfast goodies at the supermarket.

9. “No, thank you!”

If you have breakfast at your office canteen or at a café, say no to packaging by bringing your own container or plate.

10. Coffee crisis

The time a single coffee capsule takes to break down in a landfill is 150-500 years. Our Store Manager in Valencia, Juan, says you should go old-school with ground coffee from a glass jar instead.

Three recyclable and colourful to go coffee Cups. avoid plastic, sustainability, habits and routines, inspiration, GamePlan A.
At adidas, we use reusable cups made from biodegradable materials.

11. Mug over matter

Getting your coffee to go? Bring your own travel mug! They’re often made of insulating material which will also keep your coffee warm or cold for longer than a single-use cup.

12. Straw wars

Did you know that more than 1 million seabirds die every year after choking on a plastic straw?

13. Drink up

Make sure you have your own refillable water bottle to avoid buying single-use plastic water bottles.

14. Green stationary

Say no to plastic pens – start using pencils instead! Alternatively, look for refillable options or items made from recycled or compostable materials. Event Manager Tara from our North American HQ in Portland says you could also go digital and do away with pens and paper completely.

15. Ethical gadgets

Make sure your phone case is made from a plastic-free, compostable material. Brands like Pela Case produce eco-friendly cases in different colors and designs.

Glass bottle filled up at water station. avoid plastic, sustainability, habits and routines, inspiration, GamePlan A.
BYOWB (Bring Your Own Water Bottle).

Mid-day munchies

16. Time for lunch

Refuse single-use plastic takeaway containers from your canteen or cafés. Take a break from the office and choose to eat at the location instead!

17. Glass me up

If you’re bringing in a packed lunch from home, use glass containers instead of plastic Tupperware boxes.

18. Sustainable silverware

Carry a set of your own cutlery for those times when you eat at a coffee shop or food stall that only provides plastic cutlery.


How adidas is driving innovative sustainable solutions designed to transform our industry and our planet.

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19. Boost those energy levels

Make your own energy bars – most homemade recipes are healthier and can contain as little as five ingredients.

20. Tea anyone?

Reuse tea bags or drink loose leaf tea. Most ‘heat-sealed’ tea bags contain plastic!

21. Minty fresh

Tatiana from Human Resources suggests sticking to mints that come in tins instead of chewing gum.

After-work errands

22. Sweat session

Whether you like hitting the gym after work, going for a run or maybe even a swim, the adidas Parley collection can be your one-stop shop for sustainable exercise gear made from recycled ocean plastic. Working out while saving our oceans? Yes please.

Showcase of adidas Parley shoes. avoid plastic, sustainability, habits and routines, inspiration, GamePlan A.
From threat to thread.

23. Get digital with us

Together with Runtastic and Parley for the Oceans, we asked runners around the world to participate in a digital run to show their commitment to fighting marine plastic pollution – for every 1 kilometer, adidas donated $1 to the Parley Ocean School, an environmental education program in the Maldives. Download the Runtastic app and help us fight plastic pollution together!

24. Shopping trip

Bring reusable bags. You can find many large canvas tote bags that will fit your weekly shop. Keep them in the trunk of your car or in your work bag to make sure you’re ready for a spontaneous shopping trip!

25. Paper bags all the way

Refuse plastic bags at checkout. In fact, you can even encourage them to make the switch to paper bags. Actions speak louder than words: adidas has stopped using plastic bags in retail stores altogether.

adidas reusable bag handed over the counter. avoid plastic, sustainability, habits and routines, inspiration, GamePlan A.
Say goodbye to double-bagging: Find yourself a strong reusable bag that you can take everywhere.

26. Plastic-free produce

Support local farms and markets by buying fresh vegetables straight from their stalls, bring linen sacks for bread and stainless-steel boxes for meat.

27. Receipts: An environmental nightmare

Receipts aren’t recyclable – they are printed on paper coated with chemicals harmful to the environment. Stop asking for them or opt for a digital option instead.

28. Dry cleaning duties

Bring your own garment bag to the dry cleaners when picking up your clothes. Plastic garment bags do not allow enough air flow to circulate in and around your garments, which can have damaging effects. Instead, store your clothes in 100% cotton garment covers!

29. Time to send it

Before taking your packages to the post office, Patrick from Global Operations says we should think about using paper or duct tape instead of plastic tape to wrap them up.

A plastic-free evening

30. Homegrown

Grow your own vegetables and herbs at home. You don’t even need an allotment – the following vegetables grow well in a planting box: beetroot, broad beans, carrots, herbs, peas, potatoes, radishes, rocket, runner beans, chilies and peppers, salad leaves, salad onions and tomatoes.

Woman preparing plant markers at table. avoid plastic, sustainability, habits and routines, inspiration, GamePlan A.
Saving the planet one tomato plant at a time. ©Hero Images Inc./Getty Images

31. Zero-waste soirée

If you don’t have enough glasses for everyone at the party, ask your guests to bring their own reusable glasses instead of buying single-use plastic ones.

32. DIY decorations

Instead of using plastic decorations, make your own paper ones – you can use a hole punch to make multi-colored ‘sequins’!

33. Be our guest

When you host a potluck dinner where each guest brings their own dish, encourage them to avoid bringing their food wrapped in plastic clingfilm.

34. Greener gifts

If you’re giving someone a present, try not to use plastic ribbons. There are so many options for recycled wrapping paper out there.

35. Clean up your act

Don’t use synthetic sponges – try a loofah sponge instead. Loofahs are dried-up gourds in the cucumber family and can be used to scrub kitchen surfaces, sinks and tiles.

36. Store your food sustainably

Customer Service Specialist Marika says we should use Bee’s Wrap for conserving food and freeze leftovers in containers and not plastic freezer bags.

37. Laundry love

Making homemade laundry detergent is easy and inexpensive. Save money and avoid plastic by combining a bar soap, baking soda, lemon essential oil and vinegar to wash your clothes.

Getting ready for bed?

38. Nighttime routine

Face wipes – they’re convenient but most face wipes contain polyester, which means they never decompose. According to the Marine Conservation Society, there has been a 400% rise in wipes on beaches in the last decade.

39. In your face

Irene, a Retail Operations Team Assistant based in Italy, says you can make your own natural face scrub by mixing oats, salt, coffee powder, rice flour, coconut flakes and natural oils.

Organic cosmetic ingredients on rustic stone background.avoid plastic, sustainability, habits and routines, inspiration, GamePlan A.
Go plastic-free with an all-natural skincare regimen. ©Ivan Bajic/Getty Images

40. Q-tips for a greener world

Use sustainable ear swabs. Companies like The Humble Co. produce colorful and smooth cotton swabs with a handle made from 100% biodegradable, sustainably grown bamboo.

41. Hanging out

Hang up your clothes with wooden hangers instead of plastic ones!

As you can see, there are a host of simple and affordable alternatives to plastic. You can use our Ultimate Guide as a starting point. Try following these tips for one day. Then do it again the next day. Soon enough, you’ll get to a year. And then two years. If you keep going year after year, this eventually leads to a life without plastic. Your own creativity will make that lifestyle transformation easier.

It’s not about replacing all the plastic in your life in one go but thinking of non-plastic alternatives when something eventually does wear out. Even if you only choose to do one thing to avoid plastic every day, you’ll already be changing the world. No change is ever too small.

Why not start by making a difference in the first 15 minutes of your day – all you need is a bamboo toothbrush!


The guide to avoid plastic for your pocket


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by Heather Shields 07.01.2020
Really the best thing you can do is stop buying so much stuff. I know that's a hard message for those of us that work in a business where growth is essential, but if we can grow sustainably and grow with the times, I think we can win. How about clothing rental services? Or used apparel? Patagonia is a great example of an apparel business making this work.
by Valarie Smith 07.01.2020
When my colleagues started posting their tips to this list, it immediately inspired me to change some of my habits. (I had no idea shampoo bars even existed, for example.) But to see it all compiled in this nice, neat list makes me realize I have a lot more work to do. Thanks to everyone who contributed!
by kathy luo 07.01.2020
this is not daunting feat, there are alternative way to change our world. I have some good habits now, but I can do better.
by Andrew Yip 08.01.2020
Disappointed my suggestion of not smoking didn't make the list-- cigarette butts are the NUMBER ONE piece of litter picked up from beaches, and the number one source of litter globally. Cigarette butts are toxic, non-recyclable, single-use plastics that are culturally accepted to be tossed on the ground...

Smoking isn't exactly conducive to a healthy game/life/world, even without the plastic aspect!
by jeroen Rozeboom 09.01.2020
Great list!

My additions would be:
-Buy less single use items
- If you do buy single use items avoid plastic (great tips above!)
- Use the items you already have as long as possible (this includes plastic bags!)
- Think about repairing in stead of replacing durable items
- Think big, act small: a small change already makes a big difference

by Kristina Kälsch 22.01.2020
Very interesting and inspiring!
But - I ask myself if there is no chance to change our warehouse routine - like sending all our
goods not in plastic bags? It´s great that our customers getting paper bags in our stores - but when customers ordering by eCom - they always get huge amount of plastic. I think we should also change this way to set a clear message.
by Prair Gunavibool Kristina Kälsch 22.01.2020
Avoiding plastic on the route to consumers is most definitely also a priority for us! We’ve eliminated plastic bags from our stores as of 2016 and will also use recycled packaging to deliver products to stores in the future. We're currently working with Fashion for Good on a pilot to achieve 100% recycled LDPE polybags (transportation bags). Stay tuned!
by Katy Kvassay 01.02.2020
Great ideas but would be much easier for people to take action if you included actual links and recipes!
I suggest you find them and re-post!
by Joseph Woods 16.07.2020
Suggesting using (or making your own) toothpaste without Fluoride in it is foolish and could contribute to someone developing cavities! Very foolish part of the article.

First time here?