From Threat to Thread: Transforming the Ocean One Pair of Shoes at a Time

Ethan Davis, Staff Writer

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by Ethan Davis

Adidas is a well known athletic wear company. From their popular shirts and shoes, to collaborating with celebrities like Kanye West, there’s no doubt they are a famous brand. Started in 1920 by a soccer player who made spiked shoes for track runners, they now make products for a wide variety of sports. 

Focusing on shoes alone, Adidas manufactures over 400 million pairs a year. With all of these shoes being made, resources for creating them are needed. Adidas used the same resources to create their shoes until 2015 when they began a partnership with Parley For The Oceans. Parley for the Oceans is an environmental organization that addresses major threats towards our oceans” said Runners Roost, a running store in Colorado, “Their collaboration, Adidas Parley, takes plastic out of our oceans by transforming it into high performance sportswear.” 

Mark Cocksedge
Surface Magazine AdidasParley

How does one create shoes, and other sportswear with plastic? First, plastic is recovered from the ocean and sorted into groups of usable and non-usable. The usable plastic,Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET,  is sent to a processing plant where it’s crushed and dehydrated, leaving only tiny beads. (The plastic that can’t be used is sent to other recycling plants that accepts the unneeded plastic from Adidas.) The PET beads are heated and cooled, turned into pellets, heated again, then spun up into a thread like material which Adidas calls ‘ocean plastic.’ Adidas uses this ‘ocean plastic’ material in their Adidas Parley clothing line, which includes shoes, shirts and more. 

“Each product in the Parley clothing line is made from at least 75% intercepted marine trash,” says Tech Insider, “and they still meet the performance and comfort standards of Adidas’ other shoes.” In doing this, 40% of Adidas’ whole clothing line now includes recycled plastic.

This is a small step for now, but if a big enough company like Adidas promotes wearing recycled plastic, people will want to catch on–guaranteed. It’s great to see them standing up for this cause, and doing something about it. Thanks to Adidas Parley, 2810 tons of plastic has been recovered from the world’s oceans. I’m excited for what comes in the future for Adidas Parley, and any other organizations or companies that are willing to help save our planet.