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The Quit Single Use Task Force was born after the realization that some of our internal practices were contributing to the very problem we’re trying to solve. What an oxymoron it was to be using things like poly bags, plastic tags, and plastic tape that could easily wind up in the very waterways we’d later be cleaning up. In order to drive change directly from the source, we implemented QSU: a result-oriented task force that audits all of the single-use plastic in our business operations and develops solutions to remove it.

2021: We’re (still) addicted to plastic

2019: the good old days. It was during these bright and optimistic times that we made the passionate commitment to rid our business operations of all single-use plastic. Plans went into motion, things were looking up, and we smiled, unmasked, at the fruits of our labors. And then, 2020 happened. Just like you, we struggled with single-use plastic during the pandemic. Disposability became the status quo, and we watched our reusables slowly collect dust as we tried to navigate this new normal. After a tough year for zero-wasting, however, we’re excited to announce that our Quit Single Use Task Force is back in action and recommitted to eliminating UBB’s reliance on single-use plastic.

2020: The Bad

The pandemic forced most of society to increase their plastic usage in the name of sanitation, and UBB was no exception. In order to keep our stores safe for our employees and visitors, we had to rely on disposable plastic products for both PPE and cleaning needs. Additionally, while we’re immensely proud of the masks we were able to create for our customers and donate to Philladelphians experiencing homelessness, we unfortunately had to individually wrap them in plastic for sanitation purposes.

2020: The Good

On the bright side, the past year wasn’t all doom and gloom for plastic removal. In fact, we had some really great wins for sustainable business. In our recent launch with Target, we helped them initiate their first ever shipment of product without plastic poly bags. Instead, we worked with Target to use paper bags to keep the products safe, and saved 177,255 poly bags in the process. We also voluntarily took on a number of extra fees to not use poly bags in some instances where they were required (a real bummer of a requirement, we know).



A few more milestone moments

  • 2019

  • 2020

More than half of our apparel is now shipped in paper, saving more than 58,000 plastic bags.

  • 2019

  • 2020

We replaced bubble wrap with cardboard for all our spring 2020 shipments, saving over 92,000 plastic bags.

While we certainly haven't gotten to use it as much as we intended since the pandemic, we moved into a new office space in early 2020, and with it came a plastic-free policy. All of our employees received reusable utensil kits and coffee mugs, and we equipped the office with a water bottle fill station, glass food containers for lunch time to-gos, and a composting system.

Where do we go from here?

In the nearly two years since we first launched our QSU initiatives, we’ve achieved about an 80% reduction in single-use plastic. The remaining 20% comes from some tricky plastic items that either don’t have market-ready alternatives, or are industry requirements — things like shrink wrap for pallets during transportation, international shipping requirements for poly bags, and ink cartridges at the office. Here’s how we’re planning to move forward:

Get picky about pallets
One way we’re working to reduce our shrink wrap usage is by downsizing the amount of goods we ship on pallets. By not palletizing our soft goods, we can eliminate the need for shrink wrap on those items, and save approximately 80 feet of plastic shrink wrap for every pallet we bypass.

Use the buddy system

Oftentimes, plastic comes into our warehouses via outside sources, like our vendors and various business partners. We’re working to mitigate this plastic inflow by strengthening our QSU partner requirements — because friends help friends quit single use.

Lean into the third R

For all of the plastic that we have yet to find alternative solutions for, we’re working to develop specialized recycling systems to give new life to our plastic waste.

Share the love

After nearly two years of R&D exploring plastic alternatives, our goal is to share our findings with our business community. Cutting out plastic is tough, so we want to be as helpful as we can for others on this journey.