Nearly one million runners unite to raise funds for marine plastic pollution

Nearly one million runners unite to raise funds for marine plastic pollution, with many wearing adidas’ new running shoes made from intercepted marine plastic. 

Words Natalie Cyra

Nearly one million runners from across the world have united to join the fight against marine plastic pollution.

The four-week-long global Run for the Oceans running initiative over June and July with adidas and Parley for the Oceans saw 13 major running events take place worldwide – from London to New York, Barcelona, Berlin, Sydney and Auckland, with adidas ambassadors, runners and creators joining the movement, inspiring their followers to run as many kilometers as possible, tracking their progress with Runtastic and Joyrun. Together, runners from across the world covered a total distance of more than 12.4 million kilometers (that’s enough to run more than 300 times around the globe), harnessing the power of sport and social media to generate awareness for the ugly issue that is marine plastic pollution.

Taking the initiative to the next level for 2018, adidas matched every kilometre ran – for the first one million kilometres – with US $1. It resulted in $1 million raised to support the Parley Oceans Plastic Program and it’s Parley Oceans School initiative, which educates and empowers the next generation of ‘Ocean Guardians’ through different experiences such as in-school and hands-on water activities. The program introduces youth to the underwater world and gives them the tools and inspiration to protect their future.

Parley for the Oceans was founded by activist and former designer Cyrill Gutsch. It’s an organisation that raises awareness about the beauty and fragility of our oceans, and was built around the insight that creativity catalyses change faster than awareness alone. Gutsch believes collaboration is key to spreading a message – and the fashion and art world are the best platforms for making new ideas and innovations stick.

adidas have been proud partners with Parley for the Oceans since 2015, supporting its education and communication efforts, as well as its comprehensive Parley Ocean Plastic Program and Parley AIR Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign) that intends to end plastic pollution of the oceans and create innovative products – such as their new adidas x Parley UltraBOOST running shoes in the process.

To explain AIR further, it’s broken down below:

Avoid: No use of plastic bags and microbeads. Adidas has committed to being single-use plastic free in its facilities.

Intercept: Prevent plastic from entering the ocean and recover existing threats. adidas are working with Parley for the Oceans to prevent plastic entering the oceans and transform it into performance sportswear instead. They are working on turning the problem – marine plastic pollution – into progress with an eco-innovative replacement for virgin plastic: Parley Ocean Plastic.

Redesign: Drive eco-innovation around materials, products and new ways of using them with the ultimate goal of reinventing current plastic.

The new adidas x Parley UltraBOOST shoes. With the production of one pair of Parley shoes, approximately 11 plastic bottles are prevented from entering our oceans.

Since partnership began, through the AIR strategy, adidas has launched numerous limited-edition products and garments, including the UltraBOOST Parley and the UltraBOOST Parley Deep Ocean Blue shoes, which were launched on the same day the Sydney Run for the Oceans event took place. In 2017, adidas produced one million Parley products. In 2018, adidas will introduce more than seven million– including the latest UltraBOOST shoes.

Says Shannon Morgan, Brand Director Activation – Pacific – for adidas Group, “at adidas, we have an ethos around sport having the power to change lives and we’re collectively super passionate about this cause. 

“Our timeline with Parley clocks back a number of years, launching with a world first – a shoe upper made entirely of recycled ocean plastic and gillnets.

This initial product inspired the limited-edition customer release of the first UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley. There were 7,000 pairs released during this launch in November 2016.

Since then, adidas has been innovating the material for various sports beyond running, such as football, swimming, outdoor and will expand into other categories for 2019 and beyond,” he says. 

Parley Ocean Plastic, used as a replacement for virgin plastic in the making of adidas x Parley products, is a catalyst innovation created from upcycled plastic waste intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before it reaches the ocean. Adds Morgan, “with the production of one pair of Parley shoes we prevent approximately 11 plastic bottles from entering our oceans.”

IF THE OCEANS DIE, WE DIE. – Captain Paul Watson

The Parley Ocean Plastic Program starts with a global oceans clean up, ghost net retrieval and turning the trash to premium products, such as the new adidas x Parley UltraBOOST.

“In the first step, the plastic is collected by Parley and its partner organisations in coastal areas, such as the Maldives. It is then shipped to adidas x Parley’s supplier in Taiwan which upcycles the plastic and transforms it into yarn fibers, which are then used to create adidas x Parley products,” says Morgan.

The Adidas x Parley partnership is hugely significant for Adidas, says Morgan. “The brand has had a focus on the marco impact and differences we can make for years. But what we noticed that when we partnered with Parley, consumers started to take notice, listen and acknowledge what we were doing.

“It is because people care about the ocean, people care about saving animals in the ocean and they care our protecting the ocean. And this is especially the case in Australia and New Zealand where the ocean is such an important part of our life and upbringing,” he says.

“The partnership with Parley gave us focus and specifically around plastic in the ocean and that is where our focus and story comes from. The prevention of plastic entering the ocean. They say there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 and that is a scary thought.

“We know that consumers resonate with and make purchase decisions on as much as what you stand for as what you make. Consumers are more supportive of brands that support what’s important to them and we know that Australian and New Zealand consumers are passionate about the ocean,” he adds.

To learn more about the Parley Ocean Plastics Program, and their eco-innvoations with adidas, click here

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