This post originally appeared on Mind Unleashed on July 2, 2015.
With Earth’s oceans being overloaded with plastic trash, engineers all over the world are making efforts to find innovative ways to remove this harmful debris from the marine environment. Thus, Boyan Slat of The Ocean Cleanup promises to launch a massive ocean cleaning system in 2016.
But what if there was also a way to give this plastic a new life and use it for further production?German footwear giant Adidas has proposed a non-trivial idea on what to do with ocean waste – to make shoes out of it, of course!
The company has created a prototype of sustainable sneakers made almost entirely from ocean trash. In particular, the upper shoe is made out of illegal gill nets and other plastic debris removed from the ocean while the shoe base incorporates sustainable materials.
Collecting plastic from the ocean to knit the sneakers was not an easy task. In fact, it was done with the collaboration of the nonprofit organization Sea Shepherd, which organized a 110-day expedition to track illegal fishing boats in West African waters. The green part of the Adidas shoes is nothing but fishing nets collected in the course of this expedition.
At the same time, Adidas plans to release a line of sustainable sneakers later this year, believing that there will be no problem with finding plastic waste, such as fishing nets and beach trash, to be used in the production.
“We’re going to end ocean plastic pollution only if we’re going to reinvent the material,” said Cyrill Gutsch, Parley for the Oceans founder. “Plastic doesn’t belong in nature, it doesn’t belong in the belly of a fish, it doesn’t belong out there. The ultimate solution is to cut into this ongoing stream of material that never dies, is to reinvent plastic.”
The company seeks to develop a material that would decompose safely in the environment, unlike the conventional plastic that is estimated to take more than 500 years to break down.
Adidas hopes that the use of this innovative material could eventually go beyond the production of footwear. “We don’t have to limit ourselves,” said Eric Liedtke of the Adidas Group. “We can put this in T-shirts, we can put this in shorts, we can put this in all kinds of stuff.”