Garbage never looked so good: adidas is turning the tide on ocean waste

10 June 2018 - 00:00 By andrea nagel

Is it possible to turn flotsam and jetsam into something cool? Absolutely. Ask adidas, which, in 2015 partnered with nonprofit organisation Parley for the Oceans to create new-age trainers that are helping to clean up the sea.
You can hardly imagine, just by watching the ocean waves crash on the shore, that it has become the dumping ground of more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic.
In fact, the cover of this month's issue of National Geographic features a plastic iceberg, with the coverline: Planet or Plastic?, to make the point. The cover went viral on social media as it was released, bringing the plight of the world's oceans sharply into focus.One million plastic bottles are bought every minute around the globe and many of them end up in the ocean where they become a great danger to marine life.
A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched last year at the World Economic Forum found the equivalent of a garbage truckload of plastic bottles was being dumped into the ocean every minute.Last year Parley spent 110 days on an expedition to track an illegal fishing vessel off the coast of West Africa, which culminated in the organisation confiscating the vessel's deep-sea gill nets - fishing nets that span the bottom of the sea like a wall - and with adidas in tow, gave these nets a new, positive lease on life in the form of the world's first running shoe upper made entirely of yarn and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean plastic.
The shoes, a limited number of which were available for sale last year, are the first step in Parley's bigger, more ambitious plan to help reduce the amount of plastic waste in the oceans as it works towards creating technology to intercept plastic trash and re-commission the plastic itself.Mike Jaeggle, marketing director, adidas SA, says: "Through Parley for the Oceans, adidas globally has been turning threat into thread by reusing marine plastic debris to form a signature element of its iconic performance-led running shoes and to create one million pairs of shoes made from intercepted marine plastic, in 2017. Parley Ocean is also being used for other adidas sporting products, including swimming gear, soccer jerseys and outdoor items."Funded by the European Union, adidas is also spearheading a three-year research project called Sport Infinity to develop a material for performance sports clothes that can be recycled over and over again in a process that does away with chemical additives and creates near-zero waste.
Parley and adidas sold over a million pairs of recycled ocean plastic shoes in 2017, so this year they have a range of new styles in the hope of selling more than five million in 2018.
With the sports luxe trend at an all-time high, why not wear something that is a step towards a brighter, more eco-friendly future? Garbage has never looked so good.This year adidas is encouraging people all over the world to "run for the oceans" between June 8 and July 8 and every mile or kilometre that people run and track on the runtastic app, will result in adidas global donating €1 (capped at €1-million/R15.2-million) to support the ocean. Twenty world-famous adidas athletes, including Wayde van Niekerk, have joined the Parley Ocean Squad to increase awareness of the cause.
"We are hosting Run for the Oceans with adidas to reflect on how important the sea is for us," says Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans.
• People everywhere can join the movement by downloading Runtastic/Joyrun to track each step between June 8 and July 8. To find out more about the Run For The Oceans and sign up, visit

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