Hi there, Sustainable Athlete!

Did you know that 4,8 to 12,7 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, annually? That’s about 15 plastic grocery bags stuffed with plastic on every meter coastline worldwide. Wow. And did you know that it takes at least 400 years for plastic to dissolve? That’s a lot of years that go by.

The super bad thing is that plastics don’t really dissolve. Plastic breaks down into smaller pieces, called micro- and nano plastics. These tiny little pieces swirl in gigantic amounts in our oceans, and through fish it will eventually end up in the food chain. Research (1) says it is still hard to say if micro- and nano plastics cause any harm to humans, but we most likely need to consume plastic in a more conscious way so that we prevent all living species from potential harm. We especially need to stop using  the type of plastics that end up in the recycle bin after just one single use. But where to start?

Commit to the 6R’s

As an athlete, you probably heard of the 3R’s related to recovery: Replenish, Rebuild and Refuel. As it comes down to taking care of the planet, you might add another memory aid: The 6R’s:

  • Rethink your options.
  • Refuse by bringing your own.
  • Reduce the use of plastic.
  • Reuse more than once.
  • Repair if needed.
  • Recycle in the bin.

Tackle your plastic consumption

  1. Bring your own water bottle, ALWAYS. Fill up your own bottle or bidon with water. Stop using and buying plastic water bottles, and refuse to take them when someone gives you one.
  2. Bring your own grocery bags. Also make sure that there’s one fold up in your sports bag too, just in case you want to grab some groceries after training.
  3. Stop using plastic straws. Bring your own stainless steel ones, and kindly yet actively ask for “no straw” whenever you order something in the sports canteen!
  4. Eat fresh veggies! One of the easiest ways to cut down on plastic consumption is to buy fresh veggies. No pre-cut veggies, just chopping those good old veggies by yourself before using them. We admit: this can take up some time, but when you plan ahead this is definitely worth trying!
  5. Skip the plastic bags, use organic cotton bags for your gym shoes, sports clothes, and other items before you put it in your gym bag. Wash regularly and everything is totally fine (aka no weird odors!).
  6. Goodbye plastic wrap. Hello Foodhuggers! The little huggers come in all kinds of sizes, mostly round shaped. So whenever you only use half of an onion, wrap a foodhugger around the other half and save in the fridge!
  7. Bring your own on-the-go coffee and teacup. Stop using the ones you get at the train station or airport. This might get tough at the beginning, especially when you really feel like you need that coffee, but forgot to bring your own cup. So take it with you, whenever you can!
  8. Choose sustainable pre-packaged alternatives, such as glass, paper or cardboard. This means for food-related products, but also products like laundry detergent and deodorant – products that athletes use a lot!


Good luck with those 6R’s, athletes. Lead by example, spread the message and above all enjoy the process!

8 Ways to Tackle Your Plastic Consumption #sustainableathlete Share on X
  1. Wright, SL & Kelly LJ. Plastic and human health: a micro issue? Environ. Sci. Technol.  (2017)