In partnership with Parley for the Oceans, adidas hosted their inaugural Run for the Oceans event to raise awareness for ocean conservation. Along with 59,138 people using the Runtastic app across the world to support the cause, over 500 runners and world-class athletes gathered in Long Island City in New York on World Oceans Day to join the movement.
“So we teamed up with Parley in April 2015, and it was an effort to really drive sustainability, which is one of our key platforms,” Paul Bowyer, head of adidas running in the U.S., told Sports Illustrated. “We plan to make it a really integral part of our company. You’re probably familiar with our first shoe that we launched, which was literally made from plastic that Parley took out of the ocean. Since then, we’ve been able to scale up to the point where we were able to launch these three shoes on the UltraBoost platform, and 80% of all UltraBoosts will be made with Parley recycled plastics, so we’re really looking to scale the sustainability story in 2018.”
Adidas released their second UltraBoost collaboration with Parley in white specifically to raise awareness for the global coral bleaching crisis. The Primeknit upper on these special edition UltraBoosts are made from yarn spun from recycled and reclaimed ocean plastic. It takes about 11 plastic bottles to create the upper on one of the adidas Parley UltraBoosts. With the goal of creating six million pairs of Parley shoes by the end of 2018, that will be over 66 million plastic bottles that have been removed from the ocean and up-cycled to help create Parley shoes.
Ian Thorpe, one of the greatest swimmers of all-time, was on hand at the event along with marathon-record holder Mary Keitany, Olympic Gold medalist Shaunae Miller, rugby player Dan Carter and marathon runner Neely Spence Gracey.
“I first found out about Parley during the Rio Olympics,” Thorpe told SI. “Knowing how many issues we have around plastics in our oceans and being aware of their impact, I wanted to do whatever I could. Being able to take the refuge of plastics and respinning them back into a garment, I think it sends a really good message, especially when a large company like adidas gets involved with a project like this. It talks about what we can do as individuals and it’s really good to see. It’s one of the most exciting things that I’ve heard them come up with and I really wanted to be involved.”
Adidas has already eliminated plastic shopping bags from their stores, but they’re taking it to the next level by eventually eliminating virgin plastics from their supply chain entirely, which is a lofty but admirable goal. “I think you can see how it resonates with consumers and it’s certainly connecting,” says Bowyer. “We believe that we have both a huge opportunity and a huge obligation to rid the oceans of virgin plastics, and then to start integrating more sustainability into our production techniques so we don’t put any plastic into the ocean in the first place.”
It's clear that the partnership between adidas and Parley for the Oceans will only expand, as the two companies are on a mission to rid the ocean of marine plastic pollution. “At the end of the day, the values of the person and corporation have to match up with ours,” Brandon Beaty, director of men’s running in the U.S., said to SI. “We’re a creative brand, so when you think of someone like Kanye West, Pharrell or even a company like Parley, they really stand for the same values as us. It’s never a transactional partnership in that sense, it’s more an alignment of values.”
Expect an even wider range of products made from up-cycled ocean plastic to be released by adidas in the near future. To find out more about the partnership between adidas and Parley for the Oceans and to get involved, you can visit http://www.adidas.com/us/parley.