Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
Deep-sea waste makes waves in a new design collaboration.
One of the world’s biggest landfills isn’t on land at all. As CityLab previously reported, the ocean floor is home to “a vast accumulation of bottles, plastic bags, and other human-generated rubbish” that ensnares or chokes fish and pollutes the water. Trillions of bits of plastic swirl in the surf and settle in the marine environment, where they become lodged in sediment or plants. The watery world, is, John Metcalf wrote, “perhaps the world's largest hidden waste dump.”
A recent study suggested that by 2025, up to 28 million tons of plastic will be tossed into the water each year. Efforts to map the location of waterlogged debris can help us figure out where to trawl in order to lug the waste back to shore. So what to do with all of that trash bobbing around? One option is to recycle it into wearable gear.
A new collaboration between shoemaker Adidas and Parley for the Oceans aims to repurpose hauled-in waste, Gizmodo reported. For instance, the shoes pictured above are stitched with filaments from discarded deep-sea nets retrieved off of Africa’s western coast. Though these kicks are still in the prototype phase, consumer products will be available later this year.