I don’t always go to work in my running tights, but on May 31 at 9:30 am, I had a special meeting. One with more than 1,300 colleagues and the German national football team at our Campus in Herzogenaurach, Germany. It was time to run for the oceans once again.

I joined adidas five months ago as the new Corporate Communication Manager for Sustainability. Sustainability has been a big part of my private life for quite some time now. I’ve already reduced plastic waste a lot over the past few years. I prefer to buy milk, water, or other food and drink in glass containers, and I buy my fruit and vegetables from the organic farmer around the corner. A plastic shopping bag is no longer an option for me either. But I know that one individual cannot drive change alone and as a former team athlete, I am convinced that only together, we can make a real difference.

This is where Run For The Oceans comes into its own – a global movement to help end plastic waste in the oceans, in collaboration with our partner, Parley for the Oceans. It all started years ago when Runtastic came to us with the idea to create a digital run through their app. The goal was to help end plastic waste by harnessing the power of running.

How can running help end plastic waste?

2022 marked the fifth year of Run For The Oceans and together with an amazing team, I had the pleasure to support the organization of this year’s event. I was skeptical first: Could running really help end plastic waste? After diving a little deeper into it, the answer was simple: Yes!

Let’s not forget we have a duty to protect the oceans as they provide at least half of the oxygen that humans and other land animals need to survive.

People walking in a a group led by a person in a wheelchair
Over a thousand adidas colleagues came together at our HQ in Germany to run, walk and wheelchair for our first physical run since 2019.

Building upon previous events

After activating more than five million people across the world last year, our goal was to increase our impact this year. To be as inclusive as possible, we found a way for even more people to take part. Instead of committing to cleaning up plastic waste based on the number of kilometers logged, this year, participation was based on active minutes. This included selected sports like tennis and soccer, which involve lots of running. But it also included wheelchair-based movement.

We kicked off Run For The Oceans on May 23, 2022 and asked participants to track their activities through to June 8, World Ocean’s Day. For every 10 minutes they ran (or engaged in about 30 other types of movement), adidas and Parley will clean up the equivalent weight of one plastic bottle from our beaches and islands – up to 250,000 kg.

Gabriele Herzog, Senior Specialist History Management at adidas explained that “Sport is all about passion, team spirit, fairness, and countless possibilities, it doesn’t matter who you are. It was so amazing being part of Run for the Oceans to feel all this values after a long period of absence during covid. With my wheelchair bike I had so much fun to cheer the runners next to me and ride several rounds to make the world a better place.”

Together, we can create a real impact

This year we were able to bring Run For The Oceans back virtually everywhere, and physically wherever we could. at adidas, Run For The Oceans has made waves across the world. In total we organized 50 internal physical events including local runs and plogging events, where some of our colleagues left nothing to chance and removed the plastic waste from the streets and beaches themselves while they ran.

The excitement to truly live our purpose through Run For The Oceans was clear across the world from Indonesia...
...to colleagues joining our adidas Runners network in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
People in white t-shirts running together and waving flags
adidas staff in Thailand also took to the streets to earn minutes and help end plastic waste.
A large group of people posing for a picture on the beach
While our Amsterdam team turned out in force to tackle trash along the North Sea.
People wearing white running in Korea.
Plogging was also on the agenda for our colleagues in Korea running for the oceans.
A group of people wearing black clothes posing with a flag in front of the ocean
And down in Sydney, many minutes were clocked up in a bid to raise awareness for the fragility of the beautiful ocean right on their doorstep.
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While we may all have different reasons for joining the movement, together we helped make a collective impact. Nicolle Chen, Project Management intern, joined the run, believing that “we have the power to change the narrative of our future – Run For The Oceans provides us with the platform to amplify our commitment and actions towards a cleaner, healthier ocean.”

“Something wonderful in this challenge is the energy and connection that we manage to create worldwide thanks to sport. Observing how our consumers really become ambassadors and strive to add minutes, generate content, invite more people to know everything that adidas is doing for a more sustainable future is tremendous to see,” says Anuar Mata, Specialist Customer Service at adidas Latin America.

I’m proud to be working alongside so many people who are seeing the possibilities to help end plastic waste. But it’s not just about adidas, it’s about all of us!

How our partners got involved

Along with some of our key brand partners Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Karlie Kloss, Pedri González, Dominic Thiem and Nina Schultz, we also teamed up with our corporate partners such as Salesforce and About You who organized runs in some of their key locations around the world, including Singapore, Munich, Dublin, and London, activating their employees to jointly run and clean up their communities.

Many people sitting on a rock with colourful clothes
External partners also embraced our purpose and joined the movement.

Thank you all for participating. We didn’t just achieve our goals, we exceeded them. In fact, compared to last year, we increased our impact by more than 30 percent! Together, Impossible is Nothing!

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