The international conversation on climate change — when it happens — tends to focus on rising temperatures and toxic fumes. When the topic of oceanic pollution comes up, the usual media spotlight features are things like big oil spill disasters. However, a more steady and pernicious threat to the planet’s waters is the casual, unworried littering of plastic. Nonbiodegradable and easy to get snared in, plastic waste is a significant hazard to sea life. A major study by the journal Science found the amount of plastic debris that wound up in oceans during 2010 ranged from 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons, with 8 million tons as the mid-range figure. Jenna Jambeck, an environment engineering professor at the University of Georgia, attempted to put that in perspective: “Eight million metric tons of plastic — what does that look like? That’s the same as five bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.”

Parley for the Oceans, an organization self-described as “the space where creators, thinkers, and leaders come together to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of our oceans and collaborate on projects that can end their destruction” argues that creating a financial incentive is a key element to combating this form of pollution. “Today, a sexy product can be the most efficient advertising for a cause,” their website states. “It is the best proof of concept for a new technology or material and gives consumers who care the option to do the right thing.” To that end, Parley has formed a partnership with Adidas to reveal a new concept footwear: shoes with uppers made entirely from recycled ocean waste. The waste used to make the first prototype is constituted from yarns and filaments, all retrieved from a 110-day expedition tracking an illegal poaching ship. While the current shoe is only a proof of concept, the Adidas press release claims that it “offers a first look at the kind of consumer-ready ocean plastic products that will be revealed later this year.”