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Adidas Wants to Turn Ocean Plastic Into Sportswear

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Adidas Wants to Turn Ocean Plastic Into Sportswear

Would you buy shoes or clothes made from trash that is recovered from the ocean?

Adidas has partnered with Parley for the Oceans to develop materials made from ocean plastic waste to use in its products starting in 2016. The sportswear giant will also phase out plastic bags in its 2,900 retail stores around the world. Parley for the Oceans is a team of artists, musicians, actors, directors, fashion designers, journalists, architects, product inventors and scientists that addresses major threats to the world's oceans.

Adidas is trying to decrease the staggering amount of plastic waste that ends up in the world's oceans every year. Photo Credit: Parley for the Oceans

"The conservation of the oceans is a cause that is close to my heart and those of many employees at the Adidas Group," said Eric Liedtke, Adidas Group executive board member responsible for global brands. "By partnering with Parley for the Oceans we are contributing to a great environmental cause. We co-create fabrics made from ocean plastic waste which we will integrate into our product."

As we previously mentioned, plastic—from plastic bags and bottles to tiny microbeads of plastic broken down from larger sources—is a major threat to marine life and marine ecosystems. The staggering 8 million tons of plastic tossed into the oceans every year also causes about $13 billion in damages annually.

"Our oceans are about to collapse and there is not much time left to turn it around. Nobody can solve this alone. Everyone has to be part of the solution. And collaboration is the magic formula," said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans. "We are extremely excited about this partnership. There is no other brand that carries the culture of collaboration in the DNA like Adidas. Together, we will not only focus on creating the next generation of design concepts, technologies, materials and products. We will also engage consumers, athletes, artists, designers, actors, musicians, scientists and environmentalists to raise their voice and contribute their skills for the ocean cause."

Besides Adidas, many other major clothing companies are ramping up their sustainability practices. Outdoor clothing company Patagonia is making efforts to get rid of toxic chemicals in their materials. Additionally, fast fashion retailer H&M is the world’s largest purchaser of organic cotton and has set up an in-store recycling program, which has brought in around 13,000 tons of clothing.

The announcement from Adidas coincides with the publication of their 15th annual sustainability report, which highlighted the company's efforts to green up their gear. According to the report, the iconic sportswear brand has used more sustainable cotton than ever before, with 30 percent of all its cotton coming from sustainable sources, exceeding the originally planned 25 percent target. The company has committed to 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2018 and has also increased quantities of recycled polyester into their product line.

Adidas, along with Nike and Puma, made a major commitment to eliminating all discharges of hazardous chemicals throughout their supply chain and across the entire life cycle of their products by 2020. However, environmental groups such as Greenpeace criticized the sportswear brands last May for failing to take the critical steps needed to meet its target.

But now, in its most recent Detox Catwalk report, Greenpeace praised the clothing brand for its latest environmental initiatives. "Adidas is now back on track as a Detox leader. Two years after it crossed the line as one of the original Detox pioneers, Adidas began failing to meet its commitment. That was until global pressure from the Detox movement helped it get back on side in June 2014," Greenpeace said. "Adidas has delivered on its commitment to ensure that 99 percent of its wet processing supply chain facilities in China publicly report data via the credible Institute for Environmental Affairs platform. It also publishes its list of suppliers and encourages facilities to divulge their respective customers when reporting data."

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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