But some companies are trying to help. Adidas, the iconic shoe brand with those famous three stripes, is hoping to help use some of the ocean's plastic as material in a repurposed sneaker.
From Global Citizen:
The brand developed a process for culling ocean plastic pollution and turning it into yarns and filaments for a flexible sports shoe and other apparel. While the product line will be ready for purchase in 2016, it’s still mostly a symbolic gesture that demonstrates the brand’s willingness to curb its environmental impact.
Humans have a frustrating waste problem: About a third of all plastics produced end up in the dump or in the ocean. The influx of this waste is extremely harmful. Not only does plastic in the ocean cause pollution and the release of toxic chemicals, but it’s also routinely ingested by unsuspecting sea critters, which can dramatically disrupt the food chain.
Adidas has been taking several small steps towards shrinking its environmental impact. Between 2011 and 2015, Adidas implemented alternative sewing techniques that saved the companies millions of pieces of waste in the form of apparel and shoe samples.
According to WWD, the brand acknowledged that it needed to swap out the nonrenewable plastic materials, such as polyester and cotton-polyester blends, widely used in sportswear for something more sustainable.
Its ultimate goal, says WWD, is to create infinite recyclable materials that have the exact same properties as new, raw materials.
The brand also mentioned an interest in exploring waterless technologies for future products. By 2020, Adidas hopes to achieve 50 percent of water savings as its apparel suppliers and replace all of its conventional cotton with a more sustainable and pesticide-free brand by 2018. They also hope to improve working conditions in its worldwide factories. Last year 101 factories were rejected because they didn’t meet company standards.
Herbert Hainer, Adidas chief executive officer, acknowledges the complexity of sustainability, while admitting to needing to serve the expectations of the environment, the brand's employees, and local communities.
"These spaces are increasingly endangered because of human-made threats such as resource depletion, climate change or overpopulation," says Hainer. "We want to take action and be the guardians of these spaces with sustainable work that addresses these challenges."
After all, without oceans to surf, fields to explore, and mountains to climb, there’s no point in outdoor athletic wear.
It’s not yet clear when the shoes will be on the market, but the company is hoping for success, for both the sake of business and overall environmental impact.