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Joi Sears headshot

Adidas Designs Sneakers Made Entirely from Ocean Waste

Words by Joi Sears

Adidas is giving a whole new meaning to the old adage, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." The eco-conscious sneaker brand recently released an innovative pair of kicks made entirely of recycled plastic ocean waste. The shoes are the product of an ongoing partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an initiative dedicated to raising awareness and combatting plastic pollution in the oceans.

“The conservation of the oceans is a cause that is close to my heart and those of many employees at the Adidas Group” said Eric Liedtke, executive board member for Adidas Group. “By partnering with Parley for the Oceans we are contributing to a great environmental cause. We co-create fabrics made from Ocean Plastic waste which we will integrate into our products.”

Parley for the Oceans is an organization in which creators, thinkers and leaders come together to raise awareness about the state of the oceans and to collaborate on projects that can protect and conserve them. As a founding member, Adidas supports Parley for the Oceans in its education and communication efforts and its comprehensive Ocean Plastic Program that intends to end plastic pollution for good.

Together, the Adidas Group and Parley for the Oceans will implement a long-term partnership program that is built on three pillars: communication and education, research and innovation, and direct actions against ocean plastic pollution. The partnership is an example of the Adidas Group’s open-source innovation approach: to engage with partners, crowd-source ideas and co-create the future of the industry. Among others, this collaboration will accelerate the creation of innovative products and integration of materials made of ocean plastic waste into Adidas’ product line starting in 2016.

"Our oceans are about to collapse, and there is not much time left to turn it around. Nobody can solve this alone. Everyone has to be part of the solution. And collaboration is the magic formula,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans.

“We are extremely excited about this partnership. There is no other brand that carries the culture of collaboration in the DNA like Adidas. Together, we will not only focus on creating the next generation of design concepts, technologies, materials and products. We will also engage consumers, athletes, artists, designers, actors, musicians, scientists and environmentalists to raise their voice and contribute their skills for the ocean cause.”

Adidas has long been a leader in the sustainable fashion movement. This partnership builds on the company’s strong track record in product sustainability, one of the key pillars of the Adidas Group’s sustainability strategy. Constantly looking into new and smarter ways to make its products better, this collaboration will also further strengthen the company’s ties with its consumers by allowing them to be part of the solution via retail and future activations. As a first action, the adidas Group has also decided to phase out the use of plastic bags in its own retail stores.

“In 2014 we brought sustainability to our own stores when we introduced our first 'green' retail concept in our HomeCourt store in Nuremberg, Germany," said Frank Henke, VP of global, social and environmental affairs for Adidas Group. "The partnership with Parley for the Oceans has already led us to reassess some of our business practices. Stopping the use of plastic bags in our stores is a primary example of this and the right thing to do.”
The Adidas Group’s sustainability strategy is rooted in the four pillars of people, product, planet and partnership. The company is dedicated to positively influencing the lives of its employees, factory workers and people living in the communities where the business operates.

Adidas is on a mission to find better ways to create products – mainly through innovation, increased use of more sustainable materials and efficiencies. In 2012, the company introduced its “dry dye” collection, making it the first in the market to introduce a method of dyeing clothing without the use of water. It is also committed to using 100 percent sustainable cotton in all products by 2018.

When it comes to the planet, the company is dedicated to reducing the environmental footprint of both its own operations and suppliers’ factories. Its Green Company Initiative saves water, paper and energy. The vision of the initiative is to become a zero-emission company by embedding environmental best practices in everything the company does, maximizing environmental efficiency gains and harnessing consumers' passion for a greener planet.

Adidas also takes a unique approach to nurturing partnerships by engaging with critical stakeholders and collaborating with partners to improve the industry. In addition to Parley for the Oceans, the company has developed partnerships with initiatives such as the Better Cotton Initiative and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

Over the years, the Adidas Group has been honored for its innovative and practical approach to sustainability. The company ranks third among the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. Looking ahead, the company plans to focus on driving self-governance in the supply chain, accelerating strategic initiatives and engaging with consumers around the topic of sustainability.

Image credit: Adidas Group

Joi Sears headshotJoi Sears

Joi M. Sears is the Founder and Creative Director of Free People International, a social enterprise which specializes in offering creative solutions to the world's biggest social, environmental and economic challenges through the arts, design thinking and social innovation.

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