A little over a year ago, adidas celebrated its partnership with Parley for the Oceans at the launch event ‘Oceans. Climate. Life.’ hosted by the President of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York.

I was privileged to attend the event where we showcased what the future of sports footwear product can look like as we brought on stage a world first: a performance shoe with an upper made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets.

The world's first performance shoe with an upper made of recycled ocean waste is now a reality.

Welcome lofty goals

The shoe was a prototype, but a prototype that soon became iconic: it’s the symbol of our journey and our commitment to saving the oceans.

As Eric Liedtke, adidas Group Executive Board Member, said in his speech at the time:

Is this too big a goal? Maybe. But as I recently heard: “If you are thinking about an idea that you can solve in your lifetime, then you are thinking too small.” And actually, we don’t even have a lifetime. Oceans are dying. Now.

What I have learned over the last 15 months, since our partnership with Parley started, is that you can get support if you make people be part of the solution. Show them that they can also make a difference, starting from their daily habits. To this, add a good dose of positive attitude, great hope and energy. Finally, make sure you don’t get upset if it takes time … after all, things don’t change overnight.

Small changes can have a big impact

At adidas we have these discussions frequently as we believe that change should start from within. A colleague of mine explained to me: if all the adidas Group employees, there’s over 55,000 of us, were to use a bamboo toothbrush for the next 50 years, we could avoid using an amount of plastic which could cover the distance of 66 marathons!

Seems like a big deal to me.

Simple changes to remove plastic from your life can go a long way.

This sparked a thought: to create a movement you need everyone involved. No matter how small the actions are.

So what was that spark for us?

Cyrill Gutsch, Parley for the Oceans founder, mentioned in a meeting we had at our HQ in Herzogenaurach:

The adidas x Parley prototype soon became the symbol of that movement we wanted to create.

This is why, a year later, together with Parley for the Oceans, we announced the release of a limited number of the iconic running shoe showcased at the United Nations. There was a trick though: the shoes were not for sale. People had to ‘earn’ their pair by entering a creative Instagram and Weibo contest. We asked people out there to take a pledge and commit to take action.

We are all part of the solution

Once the competition was over, we realised there is a world out there that wants to be part of the solution! We were blown away by the responses we received and the stories in those videos. People are ready and willing to join us on this journey to clean up the oceans.

The tide is turning as awareness of ocean plastic pollution increases through programs such as Parley for the Oceans. ©Florence Rohart www.florencerohart.photoshelter.com - index

This is only the beginning. We need all of you out there to join forces. Everybody is welcome to support the movement by posting a video pledge and to become an ambassador.

What are you doing to avoid plastic in your daily life?

Learn about the Parley Ocean Plastic programme and the A.I.R. Strategy at www.oceanplastic.com.

adidas x Parley

From fishnets to footwear in just a year

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by Hannah Hlavacek 19.08.2016
Watching these instagram videos it's so heartwarming to see what this competition triggered: creativity, showing love and respect for the ocean, finding and displaying little solutions that can eventually lead to the big change. For me one of the best examples so far how interacting and creating together with the consumer can be leveraged to a new level.
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