Culture Sustainable Fashion What Adidas and Parley Are Doing for the Oceans By Melissa Breyer Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. Learn about our editorial process Updated May 31, 2020 Elixia Photography / Shutterstock Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community From making shoes out of marine debris to the Run For The Oceans global initiative, this dynamic partnership is tackling plastic pollution in a big way. Ah, the sea. In remarks to attendees of an America's Cup dinner in 1962, President John F. Kennedy observed, "We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came." Alas, the sea as it stands now doesn't look much like the one "from whence we came." We produce so much plastic that some 17.6 billion pounds of it finds its way into the marine environment every year; the equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the oceans every minute. Which is why it is so very refreshing to see big companies like Adidas making substantial, significant strides to reduce their use of virgin polymers. By 2024, the company expects to be using 100 percent recycled plastic, which is really something. Making Shoes From Ocean Plastic One of the ways in which Adidas is proving super innovative in terms of plastic is in their use of marine debris and trash collected from beaches and coastal communities, to make shoes. Adidas partnered with the ocean environmental group, Parley for the Oceans, and the ensuing collaborative collections have been awesome. "Back in 2016, we created the first performance products with recycled ocean plastics and went on to produce six million pairs of adidas x Parley shoes by 2018," said Alberto Uncini Manganelli, General Manager of Adidas Running. It's simple yet brilliant: Remove plastic trash from the environment while at the same time avoiding using new plastic that might eventually end up as trash in the environment. And this year, Adidas is upping the ante even more. The introduction of the 2019 Parley range will see the company produce a whopping 11 million pairs of shoes using upcycled marine plastic waste. "We’ve come a long way and won’t stop there. As a business we have committed ourselves to use only 100% recycled polyester by 2024," said Manganelli. "We are challenging our business and those around us to think about the decisions they make and how they impact the future, of not just our industry but our planet.” Run for the Oceans The dynamic duo also teams up on the Adidas x Parley’s Run for the Oceans campaign, which unites runners from all over the world to run on behalf of the ocean. Last year they raised $1 million dollars through the initiative, and this year the goal has been nudged up to $1.5 million dollars. The funds will go to the Parley Ocean School, an education program created to inspire marine conservation and empower a generation of "Ocean Guardians." “Run for the Oceans is an opportunity to celebrate the oceans, a place where runners unite to dedicate their time and energy and generate investment towards saving our oceans," said Cyrill Gutsch, Founder and CEO of Parley for the Oceans. "As the voice of our future, our youth make the most convincing teachers and best ambassadors, educating parents, industry leaders and politicians, and using media in the most native way. Youth are our biggest hope, since they are driven by the strongest of all motivations: their own survival. We are more than grateful for the generous support of our founding partner Adidas. It allows us to grow the movement into a superstorm of change.” Here's how it works: Between June 8 and 16, runners (and walkers) can sign up and track their runs by joining the Run for the Oceans challenge using the Runtastic app. For every kilometer run, Adidas will contribute $1 to the Parley Ocean School. (Adidas is also hosting events in New York, Barcelona and Shanghai – so if you are in those cities, check them out.) It's a simple, wonderful way to get involved. Between recovering ocean debris, committing to recycled plastic, creating fabulous educational programs, and galvanizing runners across the planet to make some waves ... well, I think JFK would be pleased.