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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!