Adidas Teams with Nonprofit to Turn Plastic Pollution into Shoes

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The world’s oceans are in big trouble. Each year, 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, and it’s not just harming precious marine life — it’s hurting us as well. Plastic debris in the water absorbs dangerous pollutants, and as it breaks down, is consumed by fish. These particles are then absorbed into their body and passed up the food chain, eventually making their way to our dinner plates.

That’s where Parley for the Oceans comes in. Since being founded in 2013, Parley has committed itself to spreading the word about the threats our oceans face — threats such as climate change, overfishing and, of course, plastic pollution. One major component of the organization’s efforts is reclaiming the plastics deposited in the Indian Ocean that wash up on the shores of the Maldives.

Walking the Talk

That’s all pretty great, but Parley has taken its advocacy a step further by taking those reclaimed materials and teaming up with Adidas to make performance fabrics for some truly awesome kicks. In 2015, the two organizations collaborated on a 3-D printed shoe constructed of upcycled marine plastic. The prototype, while amazing, was only distributed to a handful of people in social media giveaways. However, in 2016, they expanded by manufacturing 7,000 pairs of the shoe they christened the UltraBoost Uncaged Parley — and made it available for purchase.

The UltraBoost Uncaged Parley. Photo: Courtesy of Adidas

Based on Adidas’s popular UltraBoost Uncaged design, the Parley has an “upper” composed of 95 percent ocean plastic recovered from near the Maldives. The rest of the shoe — shoelaces, heel cap, heel webbing and sock liner — is also made from recycled materials retrieved by Parley during coastal operations. The sleek design is reminiscent of ocean waves and serves as a sweet reminder of what happens when conservation meets fashion.

But Adidas and Parley aren’t stopping there. They have plans to produce at least a million pairs of the shoes using ocean plastic by the end of 2017. For Adidas, the shoe embodies a real change for the brand. Not only have they vowed to eliminate virgin plastic from their supply chain altogether, they’ve also ousted all plastic from their headquarters and ridded their retail stores of plastic shopping bags.

Voting with Your Dollars

Image courtesy Adidas

Additionally, the pair joined forces to create jerseys for two of the biggest football clubs in the world — Bayern Munich (Germany) and Real Madrid (Spain). The teams wore their environmentally friendly kit — made from recycled ocean plastic and water-based prints — during matches in November 2016. Like the UltraBoost Uncaged Parley, the jerseys are available for purchase.

It’s incredibly heartening to see conservation practices resulting in consumer products, as it gives citizens around the world something to advocate for. Not only does it allow consumers to demonstrate their support for the oceans, it may prompt other companies to view ocean waste as a potential raw material. If we were to create a circuitous, self-sustaining supply chain, we could, without a doubt, protect and preserve the environment. Here’s to hoping that this is just the beginning of a beautiful trend, and that more companies will jump on this bandwagon and create environmentally friendly, recycled products.

Learn More:

Want to see what else is being done about ocean pollution? Check out our article on the Seabin Project to learn about their floating trash bin.

Feature photo courtesy of Adidas

Liz Greene

Liz Greene

Liz Greene is an animal-loving, makeup obsessing, pop culture geek from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest makeup misadventures on her blog, Three Broke Bunnies.
Liz Greene