German sportswear manufacturer Adidas, part of the Adidas Group that also includes Reebok, has introduced a prototype sneaker made entirely from ocean debris, primarily plastic and fishing nets. The shoe was introduced at the U.N. in New York City at an event under the slogan “Ocean. Climate. Life.,” meant to bring attention to climate change and the need to protect the oceans.
Using reclaimed plastic and other ocean garbage to make sportswear or fashion isn’t entirely new. American outdoor brand Patagonia led the way by launching fleece jackets in the 1990s made from reclaimed plastic soda bottles. Last year, the Dutch brand G-Star Raw collaborated with musician Pharrell Williams to launch a series of jeans and other apparel made from ocean plastic. Parley for the Oceans also participated, and worked with Adidas on the new shoe as well.
With Adidas, the trend now finds it footing — so to speak — as the company launches the first piece of footwear made from ocean plastic and abandoned fishing nets, known as ghost nets. The shoe was designed by Alexander Taylor, and utilized the brand’s existing Boost sole, combined with entirely new production processes. Nets were used on the upper portions of the shoe, where the green material is clearly visible. Environmental non-profit organization Sea Shepherd gathered the plastic used in the sneakers on a recent expedition to the west coast of Africa, among other places.
With millions of tons of plastic in the oceans, the problems it causes are unsurprisingly widespread, from the release of toxic chemicals as it decays, to animals such as turtles mistaking floating plastic bags for jellyfish, and subsequently choking to death when they try to eat them. Ghost nets are an equal scourge of the oceans, drifting on the currents and often snag themselves on rocks, reef, or structures, where the continue to catch marine animals, causing their ultimate death. Gathering and repurposing some of these materials sends a strong signal that something can be done about at least a portion of this trash. If companies start making products out of this garbage, there is a financial gain in reclaiming it.
The shoes from Adidas won’t be in stores any time soon, though, as they are so far only a prototype with no immediate news on production coming from the company. However, Adidas did announce that it would introduce materials from reclaimed sources into their shoe production as early as later this year or in the beginning of 2016.