Posted on 06. Jul, 2015 by Alison Crick in Jilard NewsGerman sportswear maker Adidas is planning to make the ultimate eco-friendly footwear. The company has created the world’s first shoe from plastic waste found in the oceans.
Adidas announced a new partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an organization founded in 2013 that raises awareness of the dangers to the world’s oceans while promoting projects that protect and conserve the oceans. While Adidas has worked on other sustainability efforts in the past, this is the first time they have made a shoe out of waste plastic from the oceans.
Eric Liedtke from Adidas and Cyrill Gutsch from Parley for the Oceans revealed their new initiative at a United Nations event last week. The pair unveiled a prototype shoe with the upper part make entirely from recycled ocean waste and deep-see gillnets which are used to illegally catch fish. All the plastic for this particular pair of shoes was collected during a 110-day Sea Shepherd expedition that tracked an illegal poaching vessel off the coast of West Africa. Sea Shepherd is a conservationist group that partnered with Parley for the Oceans on this particular project. The sole of the shoe is not plastic but is made from other sustainable materials.
Along with the new shoes, Adidas is planning to release plans for other products made of ocean plastics later this year. They also plan to phase out the use of plastic bags in their retail stores to prevent more plastic from ending up in the ocean. Their prototype ocean plastic shoe, however, does not yet have a name and may be released to stores in a different form than its current look.
With the new shoes and other products, Adidas is recycling at least a small part of the plastic waste that litters the world’s oceans while showing that waste can be turned into something cool. More importantly, though, they are raising awareness of a growing problem.
Plastic waste in the oceans is a bigger problem than many would think. According to UNESCO estimates in 2006, every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in the water. This ranges from large, visible pieces of plastic like shopping bags and water bottles to microscopic plastic pieces that have broken down in the water. They say that more than a million fish, sea birds, marine mammals, and other sea life die every year as a result of this plastic pollution, and there may be many more deaths that scientists are just not aware of.
There are a few ways that plastic pollution in the oceans can affect wildlife. Deep-sea nets and plastic bags can tangle around a fish or mammal. As well, even tiny pieces of plastic can be eaten by fish who think they are food. With a belly full of non-nutritional plastic, these fish then starve to death. Chemicals in the plastic can also affect hormones in the aquatic creatures and expose them to pollutants like PCB and DDT that the plastic has absorbed from the water.
Because of ocean currents, these plastic debris often clump together in huge ocean patches, such as the Great Pacific garbage patch in the North Pacific Ocean. Estimates of that plastic gyre’s size range from 270,000 to 5,800,000 square miles. Plastic waste also washes up on beaches, looking unsightly and taking away habitat and breeding grounds from shore creatures.
Some of the plastic comes from marinas and rivers, and other plastic comes from ocean-borne ships. Still more plastic comes from abrasive microbeads in cleaning and beauty products, which is washed down the drain and is too small to be trapped by water treatment plants. The tiny plastic beads then make their way into rivers and oceans.
Some organizations have organized measurement of the ocean plastic problem along with cleanup efforts, although the huge amount of plastic floating in the oceans makes this effort daunting. Others are focusing on raising awareness of the issue and urging reductions in plastic use on land. Parley for the Oceans says it is hoping to partner with even more businesses to help the world’s oceans.