A running shoe made from garbage may not sound like must-have sports equipment, but Adidas wants to illustrate how ocean trash can be turned into something new.
The concept shoe is made from ocean trash and illegal gillnets, a type of mesh net that’s designed to only let a fish’s head pass through, but not the rest of its body. As the fish struggles, the net slips behind its gills and prevents it from escaping. The nets were confiscated by the conservation group Sea Shepherd, from a poaching vessel off the coast of West Africa.
The shoe is knitted, which has the advantage of producing less waste than traditional shoe-making techniques, which create a lot of waste in the process of cutting out a pattern. The company says this technique is zero-waste, and also uses the knitting process to make its Primeknit shoes.
The shoe is part of the Parley for the Oceans program, an organization co-founded by Adidas that aims to raise awareness about ocean pollution and climate change.
It should be noted that while abandoned fishing nets are a common type of pollution in the ocean, most plastic that ends up in the sea is quickly degraded into tiny bits. This makes it nearly impossible to retrieve and recycled in any way. Marcus Eriksen, a co-founder of the non-profit 5 Gyres, said that over 90 percent of ocean plastic is smaller than a grain of rice.
The solution to the problem of ocean plastic is not to scoop it all out and turn it into shoes. The gillnet/garbage shoe is just a prototype—there’s no word on the item becoming commercially available.
Cyrill Gutsch of Parley for the Oceans told Fast Company that the real objective is to re-invent an alternative to plastic that can biodegrade without being harmful to the environment. "We need a plastic that is not the current plastic—it's a design failure,” said Gutsch. “It causes a lot of problems. Plastic doesn't belong in nature, it doesn't belong in the belly of a fish, it doesn't belong out there. The ultimate solution is to cut into this ongoing stream of material that never dies, is to reinvent plastic."