Adidas Turns To Running And Footwear To Clean Up The World’s Oceans

adidas x Parley RFTO 5K Start

There are 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans, but through running and footwear designs, adidas is working to remove them.

“As a brand, we believe that sport makes a difference in peoples’ lives and in the world,” adidas senior director of U.S. running, Paul Bowyer, told RULING SPORTS. In 2015 we started partnering with Parley for the Oceans. We have a responsibility to give back and there’s no better cause than the oceans. By 2050 we believe that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, so it’s a huge issue we feel we need to address.”

Using its footwear designs and consumers’ running habits to raise awareness of plastic marine pollution, over the next month adidas and Parley for the Oceans are hosting Run For The Oceans, a global running movement using the power of sport to raise awareness of the threat of marine plastic pollution. The event highlights the partners’ collaborative efforts to remove and reuse plastic in the ocean and presents consumers opportunities to commit to preserving the oceans.

Turning to running as a conduit for environmental advocacy, from June 8 through July 8, adidas will donate $1 for every kilometer logged on the Runtastic app, up to $1 million. The money will support the Parley Ocean Plastic Program, focusing specifically on the Parley Ocean School initiative, which educates and empowers youth through immersive experiences in the environment to teach them about the impacts of marine plastic pollution.

Individuals can find motivation to run by attending one of six high-profile events hosted by adidas and Parley for the Oceans across major global cities from Los Angeles to New York and Paris to Barcelona. Meanwhile, the global adidas running network will gather runners across 50 additional communities to log miles on the Runtastic app.

Known for pushing the needle with its activations, Run For The Oceans kicked off in Los Angeles’ Temescal Park, with runners, ocean ambassadors, environmentalists and influencers logging miles on a course overlooking the ocean. After completing a 5k, attendees were surprised by musical performances from Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals while viewing pop-up installations featuring displays highlighting the impact of ocean pollution.

Along with encouraging consumers to take action and protect the oceans from pollution, waste and growing consumption, adidas unveiled the UltraBOOST Parley and UltraBOOST X shoes, made from Parley Ocean Plastic™. On sale online now and in stores beginning June 27, each pair prevents approximately 11 plastic bottles from the possibility of entering the oceans.

“Through redesigning our footwear and process, we intercept plastic before it gets into the ocean and turn that into product,” Bowyer reflected. “Parley has a network of groups that go out and do the interception and turn the plastic bottles into particles that they then turn into a thread. We call it, ‘from threat to thread.”

While the UltraBOOST Parley and UltraBOOST X shoes mark the first full-scale release by adidas created from materials born from Parley sourced plastic, consumers can expect future adidas products to continue using upcycled materials.

“It started as a concept with Alexander Taylor, who introduced us to the ability to translate plastic into products,” Bowyer said. “It is starting to scale up as we are able to intercept more plastic. We have it in footwear, t-shirts and MLS jerseys. Our goal is to be able to scale this as quickly as possible. There’s so much plastic out there, so the limits are endless, but hopefully we can do a better job avoiding plastic so there’s less to intercept.”

Alicia Jessop

Founder of Ruling Sports


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