Making shoes using materials from post-consumer products is hardly a new trend. Various independent companies have created shoes from old soda bottles, retired inner tubes, and even recycled carpet padding. However, these innovative shoes generally were produced only by smaller, niche companies. Now, however, a major shoe and apparel company has entered the recycled shoe arena.
The German sporting-goods corporation Adidas announced last week a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an activism group that seeks to protect the oceans from pollution. The two groups will work together to create a shoe with an upper (the area that covers the top and sides of the foot) that is made entirely from recycled ocean waste, as well as parts of deep-sea gillnets, an illegal fishing practice.
As of 2006, Earth’s oceans contained 46,000 pieces of floating plastic per square mile, according to UNESCO. Experts estimate that this debris is responsible for around 1 million seabird and 100,000 marine mammal deaths every year. Parley for the Oceans founder Cyrill Gutsch is looking forward to the partnership, as he says it shows that it is possible to turn these harmful materials into something cool.
“We want to establish oceans as a fundamental part of debate around climate change,” Gutsch said in a statement. “Our objective is to boost public awareness and to inspire new collaborations that can contribute to protect and preserve the oceans.” Getting a partner as big as Adidas to collaborate with Parley provides them an immense boost in this endeavor: Adidas had around $1.1 billion in U.S. sales last year, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The proposed shoe does not currently have a name, or an existing prototype at this point, nor does it possess a timetable to appear on shelves. Adidas is currently working to create a functional design, but has made it clear they will finish this project. Having the shoe and apparel giant so wholeheartedly committed to sustainability and environmental issues will hopefully create a domino effect as more large corporations look to make an effort to protect and preserve the Earth.