An Unlikely Pairing: Recycled Plastic and Football Uniforms

After months of waiting, football season has finally arrived. For many of us, the sport provides a wonderful outlet to temporarily escape the challenges of school, work, and other daily activities. Although the fundamentals of football remain largely unchanged, a number of technologies are transforming the seemingly straightforward sport for the better.

Eco-technology now plays a surprising, yet fascinating, role in the modernization of football’s culture. Over the summer, Adidas and Parley, a group that combats ocean pollution, teamed up to develop cutting-edge, eco-friendly uniforms for the Miami Hurricanes.

The uniforms, gloves, and cleats are each composed of ECONYL yarn, a material derived from repurposed fishing nets. The upcycled yarn gets the job done and functions as an effective, durable fabric. Given the increased emphasis apparel companies are placing on sustainability, we should expect to see repurposed materials become more common in the creation of uniforms and sportswear.

The presence of eco-friendly initiatives in the culture of football, a place where one would least expect them, demonstrates the power of innovation, markets, and consumer attitudes. Recycling has broad appeal, and by intertwining capitalism and conservation, we can reap its benefits in an endless variety of sports markets. On its website, Parley states its belief that “the power for change lies in the hands of the consumer...and the power to shape this new consumer mindset lies in the hands of the creative industries.” This could not be truer. Private-led stewardship most effectively transforms consumer attitudes and improves the environment.

While Adidas and Parley work to combat ocean pollution, others engage in senseless debates about government bans on plastic straws and other ineffective policies. These same people that criticize private companies’ lack of commitment to environmental issues ignore the fact that plastic straws account for just .03 percent of ocean pollution, while fishing gear makes up a whopping 46 percent of the waste. It seems apparent that while private companies like Adidas and Parley work to tackle pressing environmental concerns, corporate critics and supposed environmentalists prefer to emphasize alarmist rhetoric and pointless policies.

Just when we thought football could not get any better, Adidas and Parley chose to team up and introduce a new element to the game in the form of repurposed, eco-friendly uniforms. This initiative showcases the capacity of innovative technology and demonstrates that many environmental issues can be addressed without government mandates. Now we can sit back and enjoy football even more knowing that sustainability is taking on a significant role in the fabric of the sport!

Ronnie Thompson