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Adidas's Parley Ultraboost.

Adidas is getting serious about ocean plastic, turning the pollution "from threat into thread."

The sportswear giant, along with partner Parley for the Oceans, has released three new models of its shoes made from marine debris—the Ultraboost, Ultraboost X and Ultraboost Uncaged.

According to Business Insider, each pair uses an average of 11 plastic bottles and incorporates recycled plastic into the shoe's laces, heel webbing, heel lining and sock liner covers.

The company has a goal of creating 1 million pairs of the popular running shoes from recovered ocean plastic in 2017.

"The new additions to the adidas x Parley collection are another step in our journey to creating one million pairs of Ultraboost from up-cycled marine plastic," said Mathias Amm, a product category director at adidas.

The new, ocean-inspired sneakers will be available in-store and online May 10.

Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans—a team of artists, musicians, actors, directors, fashion designers, journalists, architects, product inventors and scientists addressing major threats to the world's oceans— to develop materials made from ocean plastic waste to use in its products starting in 2016. Last November, adidas and Parley rolled out 7,000 pairs of its 3D-printed shoes made from recycled ocean plastics.

To ramp up its commitment to sustainability, adidas phased out plastic bags in its 2,900 retail stores around the world, saving 70 million plastic shopping bags by switching to paper bags in its stores.

EcoWatch has extensively covered the devastating global issue of ocean plastic, which is a major threat to marine life, marine ecosystems and our own health. A staggering 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the oceans every year.

Ocean plastic has reached the northernmost ends of the earth. The remote and icy waters of the Arctic Ocean are also being inundated by this form of non-biodegradable pollution.

According to a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, currents carrying trash, originating mostly from the North Atlantic, are flowing north into the Greenland and Barents Seas. An estimated 300 billion bits of plastic debris has accumulated in those waters, in sea ice or even the seafloor.

Researchers from the University of Cádiz in Spain and several other institutions found that in some parts of the Greenland and Barents Seas, concentrations of plastic were in the hundreds of thousands of pieces per square kilometer. The researchers dubbed the region a "dead end for this plastic conveyor belt."

"It's only been about 60 years since we started using plastic industrially, and the usage and the production has been increasing ever since. So most of the plastic that we have disposed of in the ocean is still now in transit to the Arctic," said Carlos Duarte, one of the study's co-authors and director of the Red Sea Research Center at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

The scientists warned that climate change could make the problem worse as rising temperatures melt sea ice.

"The growing level of human activity in an increasingly warm and ice-free Arctic, with wider open areas available for the spread of microplastics, suggests that high loads of marine plastic pollution may become prevalent in the Arctic in the future," the paper stated.

The multinational team of scientists analyzed plastic debris from survey sites around the Arctic Ocean. Most of the plastic was in tiny fragments, mostly ranging from 0.5 millimeters to 12.6 millimeters. Fishing line, film or pellets were also uncovered.

Lead author Andrés Cózar Cabañas, a professor of biology at the University of Cádiz, told the New York Times that he was both surprised and worried about the results.

"We don't fully understand the consequences the plastic is having or will have in our oceans," he said. "What we do know is that these consequences will be felt at greater scale in an ecosystem like this" because it is unlike any other on Earth.

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The Ooho. Photo credit: Skipping Rocks Lab

Bottled water is bad for the planet in many ways, especially since it tends to leave behind a mountain of plastic waste and other wasteful packaging material.

To help make this problem disappear, London-based startup Skipping Rocks Lab created the Ooho, a biodegradable and fully edible capsule for water.

These golf ball-sized sachets are made from seaweed extract and look like springy bubbles of water. You can drink them by tearing a hole into the skin and pouring the water into your mouth, or they can be consumed whole.

Not only does this novel solution address the United States' dismal plastic recycling rate—only 30.1 percent of PET bottles are actually recycled—the company says its packaging is cheaper than producing a plastic water bottle.

According to Fast Company, the Ooho's membrane is made through a molecular gastronomy technique called "spherification," the same process used to make fake caviar or the juice-filled balls you find in boba tea.

Skipping Rocks Lab is currently crowdsourcing funds for the Ooho and trialling the product at events as an alternative to plastic bottles.

"Where we see a lot of potential for Ooho is outdoor events—festivals, marathons, places where basically there are a lot of people consuming packaging over a very short amount of time," Pierre Paslier, cofounder of Skipping Rocks Lab, told Fast Company.

The crowdsourcing campaign as well as its accompanying video have gone quickly viral this week. The company announced Thursday it has raised more than one million dollars from 1,000 investors in a mere three days.

Photo credit: EPA / Mike Nelson

Kenya just became the latest country to ban plastic bags. According to Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu, "The ministry has banned the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging."

Kenya's ban follows the United Nations' new Clean Seas initiative, which has already inspired 10 governments to address plastic pollution.

Indonesia has pledged to reduce marine waste by 70 percent within the next eight years, and Africa, Rwanda and Morocco have already announced bans on plastic bags, with other countries expected to sign on within a month.

"Kenya should be commended for its environmental leadership," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. "It's a great example that I hope will inspire others, and help drive further commitments to the Clean Seas campaign."

"Kenya is taking decisive action to remove an ugly stain on its outstanding natural beauty," Solheim added. "Plastic waste also causes immeasurable damage to fragile ecosystems—both on land and at sea—and this decision is a major breakthrough in our global effort to turn the tide on plastic."

Recent reports tell of whales suffering and dying after ingesting plastic waste. Including a whale found dead with more than 30 plastic bags in its stomach.

Many marine creatures such as fish, seabirds and turtles are choking on the 8 million metric tons of plastic garbage infesting oceans each year.

According to Douglas Broderick of the UN, "5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are swirling around in the world's seas. Five giant 'patches' of garbage are floating in the world's oceans. They are nearly equivalent to the entire land mass of Indonesia. They're growing. Patches have collected so much trash—mostly plastic—they can be seen from space."

Broderick estimated that at current pollution rates, "there could be more plastic particles than fish in the oceans by 2050."

Kenya's ban, which begins in September, will require sweeping changes to business as usual. Supermarket shoppers, for example, use about 100 million plastic bags annually. Local entrepreneurs are already preparing to sell sustainable alternatives. Watch here:

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By Lauren Bowen

So many of the products that we buy and use daily will end up in a landfill at the end of their lives—especially those made from plastics or other unrecyclable (or uncompostable) materials.

Yoga mats usually fall into this category.

Fortunately, more and more incredible companies are producing sustainable, chemical-free yoga mats. Most are made from jute or all-natural rubber—materials that are gentle on the Earth, without sacrificing grip quality.

Sound like something you'd be into? Read on.

1. Manduka eKO Lite Mat

Thick and extra-cushioned for joint support (but weighing less than five pounds) this high-quality mat may very well change your life. It's made from biodegradable, non-Amazon-harvested, natural tree rubber which means no toxic PVC, no plasticizers and no foaming agents! Trust me, it's worth the investment.

2. Yoloha Nomad Cork Yoga Mat

If you're tired of your yoga mat getting slippery when wet, you've just found your holy grail. This 4 millimeter yoga mat is constructed from anti-microbial, premium-grade cork that is both self-cleaning and biodegradable! Bonus: Any cork material leftover during the mat's no-waste manufacturing process is reused to make new products. Pretty cool, huh?

3. Affirmats Yoga Mat

This eco-friendly, non-toxic yoga mat is a real treat! Each mat is decorated with a positive affirmation like "I am enough" or "I am free" to inspire you during your practice. Made from slip-resistent jute and eco-PVC, this 5 millimeter mat is completely free of nasty phthalates, latex and heavy metals. It even gets more slip-resistant with use!

4. Barefoot Yoga Original Eco Yoga Mat

The Original Eco Yoga Mat is eco-conscious and non-toxic. Composed exclusively from all-natural rubber and jute fiber, you can rest assured that it is free of chemical additives. Highly durable, flexible and natural-feeling, you'll never go back to your old mat.

5. Jade Harmony Yoga Mat

This Jade Yoga mat is a favorite among yogis. It contains zero PVC, EVA or other synthetic rubber and is made instead from sustainable, renewable rubber. Designed in a number of sizes and widths, odds are you've just found the perfect tailor made option. Bonus: For every mat sold, Jade plants a tree!

6. Dragonfly TPE Lite Mat

The TPE Lite Mat is a beautiful take on minimalism in yoga gear. Look closely and you'll discover that the entire surface is imprinted with tiny dragonflies! This mat is made using closed-cell technology to prevent any sweat and other nasties from penetrating its surface. So, rest assured: your mat will stay germ-free.

7. PrAna Henna ECO Yoga Mat

This top selling yoga mat is made from non-toxic TPE that is both chemical-free and UV-resistant. Plus, it has a gorgeous henna print on the top side. This product also has a closed-cell construction so you don't need to worry about anything nasty absorbing into the mat.

You spend a lot of time on your yoga mat! So invest in one that has a long lifespan and won't expose you to nasty chemicals. Which mat is your favorite?

Reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.

A new movie is putting pressure on the clothing industry to address a major emerging threat to aquatic life. Grounded in mounting scientific evidence, the 2-minute animated movie from the Story of Stuff Project calls attention to the issue of microfiber pollution from synthetic clothing.

Along with the movie, a global petition has been launched aimed at major apparel brands, demanding these companies pledge resources to developing solutions and make those pledges public.

Microfibers are tiny plastic threads shed from synthetic fabrics like polyester, rayon and nylon. These fabrics currently make up 60 percent of all clothing worldwide and their use as the dominant textile materials are dramatically on the rise. When washed, plastic microfibers break off and a single jacket can produce up to 250,000 fibers in washing machine effluent. Less than 1 mm in size, they ultimately make their way through wastewater plants and into marine environments where they have been found to enter the food chain. Microfibers make up 85 percent of human made debris on shorelines around the world according to a 2011 study.

"We understand that despite clothing manufactures best intentions, our workout clothes, dress shirts, favorite fleeces and even our underwear are polluting our waterways and, potentially, our bodies," said Stiv Wilson, campaign director of the Story of Stuff Project. "This new movie is going to turn up the volume on this issue, expand public understanding and create a chorus of voices demanding accountability and transparency. Our goal is to unlock and encourage collaboration between the clothing industry, scientists, advocates and policymakers, so that we tackle this problem head on and out in the open."

While some companies have started to suggest interim solutions, such as washing synthetics less or capturing the fibers with filters, the Story of Stuff Project and other advocates believe a larger, systemic solution, such as new fabric formulations, is the only true answer.

"Our society has overcome tremendous challenges in the past," said Michael O'Heaney, executive director of Story of Stuff. "If we can put people on the moon, we can make fabrics and clothing that don't pollute the environment and threaten public health."

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The United Nations is "declaring war" on the biggest sources of planetary pollution—ocean plastic. On Thursday, the intergovernmental organization's environment program (UNEP) launched its #CleanSeas campaign at the World Ocean Summit hosted by The Economist in Bali, Indonesia.

The unprecedented global initiative urges governments and businesses to take measures to eliminate microplastics from cosmetics and personal care items, ban or tax single-use plastic bags and dramatically reduce other disposable plastic items by 2022. Everyday citizens are also encouraged to join the fight.

Ten countries have already joined the campaign. Indonesia aims to reduce marine litter by 70 percent by 2025. Uruguay will tax plastic bags later this year. Costa Rica will implement better waste management and education strategies to slash single-use plastic.

Estimates say that 8 million tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans every year, wreaking havoc on aquatic life and ecosystems and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. If plastic continues to be dumped at its current rate, the oceans will carry more plastic than fish by 2050 and an estimated 99 percent of seabirds will have ingested plastic by then.

There is also a growing presence of tiny plastic particles that shred off of larger items such as plastic bags, bottles and clothing. According to UN News, "as many as 51 trillion microplastic particles—500 times more than stars in our galaxy—litter our seas, seriously threatening marine wildlife."

The campaign's organizers want to banish plastic pollution from entering the world's seas before it's too late.

"It is past time that we tackle the plastic problem that blights our oceans," Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, said. "Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables. We've stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop."

The program is also calling on consumers to shrink their own plastic footprint, from bringing reusable bags to avoiding cosmetics with microbeads.

"I support the Clean Seas campaign because I believe there are better alternatives to single-use disposable plastics, and that we as consumers can encourage innovation and ask businesses to take responsibility for the environmental impact of the products they produce," Jack Johnson, a musician and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador, said.

"We can all start today by making personal commitments to reduce plastic waste by carrying reusable shoppings bags and water bottles, saying no to straws and choosing products without microbeads and plastic packaging. We can also support the efforts of the emerging youth leaders around the world working for healthy and plastic free oceans," Johnson said.

The singer-songwriter is also promoting a new documentary The Smog of the Sea, which highlights the problem of microplastics. Watch here:

Companies such as DELL are also onboard with the UNEP clean seas campaign. In a tech industry first, the computer company announced this week it will use packaging trays with 25 percent recycled ocean plastic content. The pilot project will keep 16,000 pounds of plastics out of the ocean, the company said.

"DELL is committed to putting technology and expertise to work for a plastic-free ocean," said Piyush Bhargava, vice president for global operations. "Our new supply chain brings us one step closer to UNEP's vision of Clean Seas by proving that recycled ocean plastic can be commercially reused."

Other major announcements are expected at the upcoming The Ocean conference at the UN Headquarters in New York in June, and UN the Environment Assembly in Nairobi in December, according to UNEP.

"The ocean is the lifeblood of our planet, yet we are poisoning it with millions of tonnes of plastic every year," said Peter Thomson, the president of the UN General Assembly. "Be it a tax on plastic bags or a ban on microbeads in cosmetics, each country [can] do their bit to maintain the integrity of life in the Ocean."

Photo credit: Uwe Kils / Wikimedia Commons

English researchers have discovered an alarming amount of toxic pollution in the bodies of amphipods living in the deep sea trenches of the Pacific Ocean. The research team from Newcastle University, the James Hutton Institute and the University of Aberdeen caught and tested small crustaceans in the Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which reach about 30,000 feet deep.

Map of the Mariana TrenchFree World Maps

Dr. Alan Jamieson led the team and is lead author of the study, Bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the deepest ocean fauna, which was published online in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution in February.

"Here we identify extraordinary levels of persistent organic pollutants in the endemic amphipod fauna from two of the deepest ocean trenches … " the study abstract states. The study also explains that the creatures tested contained more pollutants than similar crustaceans from some of the earth's most polluted waters, including China's Liaohe River and Japan's Suruga Bay.

The amphipods held "10 times the level of industrial pollution than the average earthworm," a Newcastle press release stated.

The researchers employed remotely-operated vehicles to trap the amphipods.

"We still think of the deep ocean as being this remote and pristine realm, safe from human impact, but our research shows that, sadly, this could not be further from the truth," Jamieson said. The study "really brings home the long term, devastating impact that mankind is having on the planet," he added.

Some of the chemicals found have been banned since the 1970s, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PBDEs were used as flame retardants and PCBs as electrical insulators and unfortunately, more than one million tons were produced before the ban.

These chemicals are known as Persistent Organic Pollutants and are highly resistant to natural deterioration. The research team speculates that the creatures tested may have eaten plastic debris or polluted animal carcasses that sunk into the trenches.

The team plans to explore what these findings mean for the wider ecosystem and determine how, if possible, to avoid further damage to this deep-sea habitat.

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