One of the hottest topics of the last few years, sustainability and the importance of limiting the use of single-use plastics is more crucial than ever. People are reassessing their day-to-day habits and looking to global companies to do more to protect our planet. But what can brands do to help?
One of the most polluting industries in the world is fashion. The production, transportation and throw-away-culture behind the fashion industry is up there with one of the most damaging contributors to global warming, but there are companies who are spearheading the movement for change. One sportswear giant paving the way is adidas.
A hop, skip and jump ahead of other sportswear brands when it comes to sustainability, adidas has helped our oceans by partnering with conversation group Parley for the Oceans, reduced their carbon footprint by engaging with manufacturing suppliers to discover emissions-reduction techniques and have steadily increased their use of sustainable materials. Just a few of the ways they’re doing more to save the planet, should other sportswear brands be taking note?
One of the biggest changes adidas has made in the name of sustainability is their shift to recycled polyester. Vowing to convert entirely to the recycled material by 2024, they’re doing this in a bid to reduce their plastic usage to save the oceans. Claiming that “environmental impact is a priority” for them, adidas are committed to phasing out the use of virgin polyester but explain that they can’t change fabrics completely due to the sports-friendly properties of polyester. Not only does it dry quickly, it’s super lightweight and flexible – but they admit that recycled polyester does the job and they’re prepared to make the change.
In fact, the iconic sportswear brand has been developing this initiative for over seven years now. Starting in 2012, the brand crafted uniforms for volunteers at the London Olympic Games – and every single one was made from recycled polyester. The uniforms proved to deliver on style, performance and durability while reducing their impact on the environment, and so the 2024 goal of completely eradicating virgin polyester from their designs was born.
The brand’s most famous sustainable collection is their Parley Ocean Plastic range. Everything in the line-up is crafted from upcycled marine plastic waste that’s found washed up on remote islands, beaches and coasts. After collecting the plastics, it’s sent to Parley supply chain partners, shredded and transformed into high-performance yarn. The collection boasts not only high-performance trainers but leggings, jackets, T-shirts and other workout gear.
Devoted to not just using recycled materials but creating recyclable materials, adidas is set to launch the Futurecraft Loop. A highly functional sneaker, recyclable TPU is formed into the eyelets, the tongue label, outsole and upper and the strapline claims that this game-changing shoe is “made to be remade”. 100% recyclable, this silhouette can be broken down and transformed into something new when you’re done with it.
In a similar bid to do their bit for the planet, Nike isn’t far behind adidas with their new approach to sustainable craftsmanship. Since 2008, all Nike Air soles contain a minimum of 50% recycled manufacturing waste and they’re made with 100% renewable energy. Their FlyKnit is engineered with an average of 60% less waste and they, too, use recycled polyester.
Similarly to adidas, Nike have crafted football kits from recycled plastics but interestingly, have put far less money into marketing their environmentally-friendly ventures. Where adidas has entire web pages dedicated to sharing their sustainability journey with customers, Nike has little information. And the information that is available is difficult to find. Should the brand do more to educate consumers on the importance of sustainable shopping? Well, evidence suggests that 73% of millennials are willing to spend more money on sustainably made products. So, offering a lesson into the environmentally friendly background of some of Nike’s garments is arguably a missed marketing opportunity. Nonetheless, they’re still making efforts to create more conscious clothing.
Taking a similar environmental approach to adidas is the brand’s partner, Yeezy. Speaking at The Fast Company Innovation Festival, Kanye West gave fans a closer look of a brand-new shoe that’s made completely from algae foam. He delved into the future of the brand and revealed plans to investigate environmentally friendly dyes, use less fossil fuels and completely revolutionise production. The Chicago-born rapper plans to move manufacturing to the United States and place a HQ in Wyoming, where it can farm its own fibres and develop the world’s very first ‘seed to sole’ sneakers.
Compared to other brands like PUMA, New Balance, Sketchers and ASICS, adidas is miles ahead. Paving the way for other brands to learn and move forward with their own sustainable initiatives, adidas has, on most counts, made a good start. However, they have a few boxes to tick before they can consider themselves a truly ethical brand; like setting science-based greenhouse gas targets along with their competitors.
Do you think adidas is doing enough? Should more brands be following their lead? Let us know what you think and as always, keep it locked into The Sole Supplier for all the latest sneaker news and releases.