Apr 05, 2019 09:41 AM EDT
Caring for the planet and caring for our bodies are similar in the sense that they both require great dedication, effort and resilience-but now they have something else in common; you will soon be able to buy Adidas brand running shoes that are made completely from recycled ocean plastic. Yep, that's right, Adidas is planning to create 11 million pairs of running shoes made of discarded plastics found in oceans and on beaches.
That's the visionary idea behind Parley for the Oceans, founded by activist designer Cyrill Gutsch, the organization-built around the insight that creativity catalyzes change faster than awareness alone-launched a historic Earth Day partnership with Adidas. However, Adidas isn't their only partner in the crusade against pollution. They have collaborated with Major League Soccer teams that have worn uniforms made from Parley's upcycled plastics, as well as a women's yoga gear line called Wanderlust.
Gutsch feels that fashion and design are more effective outlets-when it comes to gaining awareness for a cause such as this-than creating numerous public service announcements. In that world, says Gutsch, "people expect to be surprised, to learn new things. and be inspired to change their ways." Fashion, he laughs, "has the power to create trends which make you do things that often make zero sense."
"Environmentalism, for a long time, was all about protest, all about warning," he explains. "It was not fast enough to bring the economy to change, even though it is a fast-growing movement. We will not be able to convince everybody on this planet by presenting scientific evidence. We have to find a catalyst and that is what these products are that we make: symbols of change."
Add applied science to the vision and what we have is a recipe for change, and not just change, but drastic change. "With creatives, I include a scientist on the same level as an artist," Gutsch says. And Parley's technicians, who turn discarded ocean plastic into the textile-like material woven into Adidas athletic garments, are truly scientific artisans. "We believe that if you want to replace something that does harm," he notes, "you need to come with something that is better. You have to question product but you also have to develop new product ideas."
In 2017, the company produced 1 million Parley shoes. In 2018, the goal was as many as 5 million shoes made of Parley's ocean plastic. Sadly, there's more than enough floating trash to push numbers like that even higher. Virgin plastic is everywhere, and, as Gutsch underscores, "everything ends up in the water."
In the next five years, Gutsch says, Parley intends to be fully operational and intercepting ocean plastic in nearly 40 countries worldwide. And if you want to get involved, you can take global action locally. "Just let one plastic item go," Gutsch asks. "Post it on social media. Explain that you're letting go. Ban it from your life and challenge somebody else."
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