Runners participating in the 2018 edition of RFTO in Mumbai. Courtesy: Adidas
Runners participating in the 2018 edition of RFTO in Mumbai. Courtesy: Adidas

Running to save the oceans

  • Adidas has collaborated with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans since 2015 to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans
  • On World Oceans Day, the brand is organizing Run For The Oceans (RFTO), an awareness- and fund-raising campaign uniting runners in cities

Marine plastic pollution is growing at an alarming rate," says Alberto Uncini Manganelli, general manager, Adidas running. “As a sportswear organization, we feel it is our duty to act and affect positive change in the space of sustainability."

Ranked in the Fashion Transparency Index 2019 as one of the world’s most transparent fashion brands, Adidas is heavily invested in its sustainability initiatives. It has collaborated with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans since 2015 to raise awareness about marine plastic pollution, and, in 2017, sold one million pairs of the UltraBoost Parley, a shoe made of yarn developed from recycled plastic bottles. In 2018, the brand organized Run For The Oceans (RFTO), a campaign uniting one million runners across the globe.

For its second worldwide edition, RFTO returns to Mumbai, with participants like Abhimanyu Chakravorty, founder of Plogga India, and marine photographer Sumer Verma. Manganelli speaks to Lounge on the impact of the campaign, and its goal of a sustainable future for the oceans. Edited excerpts from an email interview:

How did the RFTO campaign come about?

Launched in 2017, RFTO is a global movement that harnesses the power of sport to draw attention to the devastating levels and impact of marine plastic pollution. The goal is to inspire positive action to tackle it now and raise funds to empower the next generation to protect the oceans for decades to come. It is our endeavour to be a responsible organization when it comes to sustainability.

What made you choose Mumbai as a venue?

Marine plastic pollution is an issue for the global community, impacting all parts of the world. That’s why RFTO is a worldwide initiative and is continuing to expand this year with more runners in more cities than ever before uniting in the fight for shorelines. We are excited that Mumbai will be one of the cities hosting an event this year, which will see the city’s thriving running community come together to help drive awareness, raise funds and initiate change.

Apart from creating awareness, how else does the campaign contribute to your sustainability practices?

Taking the partnership even further in 2019, Adidas x Parley are aiming to drive the mass education of a new generation around the world. The Parley Ocean School will inform the next generation on the effect of trash entering the oceans and empower them to make behavioural change for lasting impact. This includes the launch of the Parley youth activist platform on World Oceans Day. The platform hosts a digital curriculum which equips schoolchildren with the skills, tools and knowledge required to protect the planet’s oceans. It will also act as a digital space where young people can come together, share ideas and gain access to events, mentors and tools.

How has consumer response to products made from recycled plastic evolved?

Consumers have taken note of the initiative, and, more importantly, the problem at hand. We have seen a rising demand and desire for more such products. Being ecologically friendly and, at the same time, sporting high-performance gear appeals to our consumers.

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