Adidas and Parsley Run for the Oceans by turning Ocean Plastic into Shoes

Adidas and Parsley Run for the Oceans by turning Ocean Plastic into Shoes

by Yash Saboo July 4 2018, 3:03 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 3 secs

Let's dig into some figures. Studies tell us that there’s roughly 80,000 tons of plastic polluting the Pacific Ocean. That’s an area roughly three times the size of France, and it’s only getting bigger, which is cause for grave concern. And that figure is of Pacific Ocean alone. Despite our struggles to face these harsh realities, a growing chorus of activists and eco-conscious companies like Adidas and Parley for the Oceans are fighting to raise awareness of this critical, manmade issue while delivering real ways for consumers to take action.

Since 2015, Adidas has been working with Parley for the Oceans, an organization that raises awareness about the beauty and fragility of our deep, blue seas.


Together, they’ve come up with creative footwear solutions that utilize Parley Ocean Plastic, a proprietary textile made from recycled plastic retrieved from our oceans, proving that footwear companies are able to adopt sustainable manufacturing practices at scale so long as they’re willing and able to do so.

The Parley foundation is built by Activist designer Cyrill Gutsch who launched a historic partnership with Adidas that saw every Major League Soccer team don jerseys constructed with Parley materials that upcycle ocean plastic. There are running shoes made in the same way, too — including a Stella McCartney trainer — and a women’s yoga gear line called Wanderlust.

Why get into producing merchandise instead of making public service announcements? For Gutsch, the answer is simple. Not only is collaboration more powerful than flogging a message solo — it’s more productive, too.

And when it comes to moving people to adopt new ways of seeing and doing, the fashion and art world is the perfect place to make bold new concepts concrete. In that world, says Gutsch, “People expect to be surprised, to learn new things and be inspired to change their ways.” “Fashion”, he laughs, “has the power to create trends which make you do things that often make zero sense.”

“Environmentalism, for a long time, was all about protest, all about warning,” he explains. “It was not fast enough to bring the economy to change, even though it is a fast-growing movement. We will not be able to convince everybody on this planet by presenting scientific evidence. We have to find a catalyst and that is what these products are that we make: symbols of change.”

That’s where the science comes in. “With creatives, I include a scientist on the same level as an artist,” Gutsch says. And Parley’s technicians, who turn discarded ocean plastic into the textile-like material woven into Adidas athletic garments, are truly scientific artisans. We believe that if you want to replace something that does harm,” he notes, “you need to come with something that is better. You have to question product but you also have to develop new product ideas.”

Taking their commitment even further this year, Adidas will match $1 to every kilometer run for the first one million kilometers which will support the Parley Ocean Plastic Program.

“At Adidas, we believe that through sport, we have the power to change lives and the Run for the Oceans movement truly reflects this,” explains Adidas General Manager Andre Maestrini. “We have created a unique global platform that gives everyone the opportunity to impact their lives by joining a collective running movement that fights marine plastic pollution. Seeing the adidas family unite for a shared purpose is what makes the campaign so powerful.”

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