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 first glance, this seems like a terrific idea and makes us go “Awww, how awesome of Adidas! I’m going to go give my money to them right now!” But that’s the point, isn’t it? They know people are starting to actually care about the environment, and they want to appeal to that concern as a way to turn profits. Sure, they’re one of the “better” companies, when comparing their environmental and philanthropic practices to other companies. But first, let’s take a closer look at the issue here…
These fishing nets that Adidas plans to recycle into shoes are most likely from the illegal Chinese fishing boats that have been spotted in great numbers off the coast of Africa. Why are they there? More than likely, they are trying to meet a growing demand for meat in China, as the people there are increasingly transitioning from a rice-based diet to a meat-based one.
The impact of the switch to meat has a significant impact on agricultural output and the demand for grain. Because 3 kilograms of feed are needed to produce each kilogram of meat, feeding a large and growing population of animals will be a big challenge as China and the rest of the world gear up to produce more corn and soy beans for animal food.
As much as I hate to say it, because I like eating meat, our current diet is unsustainable on a large scale.
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,…
Last year the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said that food production would have to increase globally by 70% by 2050 to feed the world’s surging population. The panel says that efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth.
To show you the impact that meat consumption has on our planet, here are some images:
In addition to eating less meat overall, urban farming is the future of food. Rooftop gardens, backyard greenhouses, community plots…these are not only sustainable for the planet, but they are beneficial in more ways than nutritionally for people. The act of gardening, and even simply the sight of green plants, has huge impacts on stress levels.
So how did I get to urban farming from Adidas manufacturing recycled shoes? My point is that if companies really cared about the planet as a whole, they’d be using their profits and influence to actually solve the problems facing humanity and, ultimately, earth. Instead of harvesting the discarded fishing nets from illegal Chinese fishing boats, why not fund start-ups for urban farms in China? Bottom line, Adidas cares more about their profit margin than their fellow humans. This new line of shoes may help the earth a smidgen, but it’s merely a positive side effect of their quest for more money with which to line their pockets.
Instead of buying shoes made from recycled fishing nets, scour local thrift stores or consignment stores for like-new shoes for a fraction of the cost. Use the rest of the money you would have spent on new shoes to start a container garden or raised bed in your own backyard or a community space. Encourage others to do the same. Many small, individual choices are what will change this world for the better!