The more I've been exposed to examples of greenwashing all over the internet, the more skeptical I've become in my research of companies and advertisements. That's why, when I began seeing Adidas ads claiming new "green" products, I had to dig a little deeper to find out just how true the claims may be.
Although I wasn't sure what I might find from a business as big as Adidas, I was pleasantly surprised. According to the company's website, it plans to shift entirely to recycled polyester products by 2024. "Reducing our environmental impact is an essential priority for us," it reads. The company has a history of making changes with sustainability in mind.
In the meantime, Adidas plans on a public release of its shoe Futurecraft Loop in 2021. The shoe is "made to be remade" from thermoplastic polyurethane (PTU) without using any glue. This way, they can be recycled in a process where they clean, grind, melt, and re-form another shoe. This is unlike most brands out there, and far beyond the standard practices of any other big brand.
According to Sole Collector, "Loop is built entirely of TPU that is spun to yarn, knitted, molded, and clean-fused to a Boost midsole with Futurecraft technology. When an owner returns their shoe to Adidas, it will be washed, ground to pellets, and melted to make the materials needed for a new pair."
So I may just be cynical in my skepticism of the product, but there are plenty of other skeptics out there as well. I certainly was impressed to see Adidas' promise to shift to recycled plastic. Still, I can't help but wonder how much of the motivation behind the claim is genuine. Adidas is sure to profit off of this environmentally-friendly collection, so does the Earth-fist idea appeal to the brand, or simply the promise of profit?
The Daily Catch, a paper from The Terramar Project, concurs that "corporations are not people. The primary concern of a publicly traded brand like Adidas is its responsibility to its shareholders who expect growing numbers. It's misleading at best to portray Adidas, whose growth comes from selling increasing amounts of shoes and apparel, as environmentally friendly."
The largest problem with this brand new Futurecraft Loop? The initial shoe will be made out of virgin plastic. Assuming the shoe is successful, that's loads of plastic they'll be utilizing for a so-called environmental product. So, although the idea is to eliminate plastic production in the cyclical process of recycling material, it is much less effective without dedication to using recycled materials.
In an "Open Letter to Adidas" on HuffPost, the point is made that "hardly anyone wants to recycle plastic in a closed loop design, product to same product because the virgin stuff is so cheap." The whole idea is to stop using fossil fuels entirely. Why keep creating plastic if your whole goal is to eliminate it?
So, in conclusion, I call on Adidas to change its business practices and strive for a virgin plastic-free business model. Now, this won't happen without the consumers. If you're going to shop Adidas, check out its sustainable products made from ocean plastic or recycled polyester. Above all, do your research. Look to see whether there's a comparable product from another company with more ecological motives. Remember, the consumer has the ultimate power when it comes to a company's decisions. Support brands that share your values and be the change that the planet needs.
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