On Earth Day, Converse’s worldwide community of creatives come together to raise awareness about this 80 thousand tonnes plastic patch and design and sell sustainable prototypes to help save the ocean.
The notorious Garbage Patch – located in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California – covers 1.6 MM Square Kilometers and contains an estimated 80 million tons of plastic, doubling in size each decade. Frustrated with the continuous growth of the Garbage Patch, the Converse All Stars, a group of young, eco-conscious artists and activists, decided to take action, and are launching a fully-virtual Renew Labs Store on top of it.
The store’s main purpose is not only to showcase their highly limited collection of sustainable sneaker prototypes, which have been created as part of Renew Labs, a project led by Converse All Stars to fuel sustainable innovation. Ultimately, the Renew Labs Store aims to use its proceeds to fund the removal of the Garbage Patch on which it stands – closing it down for good by removing its trash foundation as soon as possible.
Though when the Renew Lab Store closes, it doesn’t mean that the All Stars’ work is over: “There’s 80 thousand tons of plastic being released into the ocean every year, and globally less than 10% of plastic is recycled. So while closing the store will not mark the end of the problem, we hope that it will raise awareness for all of us, and future generations, to help find sustainable solutions,” says Varsha Yajman, a Climate Justice Advocate and Member of the All Stars who helms the launch of the store.
A Collection of Hyper Limited Sustainable Prototypes
Inside the Renew Labs virtual store, visitors can explore a collection of sustainable prototypes created by 40+ All Stars, featuring our lead All Stars Maggie Zhou and Varsha Yajman (AUS), prototype creators such as Pedro Souza (BRA), Dewi N. Sutrisno (IDN), Emma French (AU), Dulce Margarita Monjarat Leyva (MX), Samkelo Boyde Xaba (SA), and many more collaborators from all over the world.
“We want to turn the most iconic sneaker into the most sustainable one,” says Miguel Carrillo, Marketing Director Converse.
“But we know we can’t do it alone. So we’re connecting with the All Stars — with these young, progressive thinkers from Bogotá to Bangalore — and getting them to help us figure out how to get there. They’re a real driver in our evolution.”
All prototypes were created by the All Stars themselves, and designed with low-impact techniques – some wildly innovative and others more traditional.
Some prototype series use new and advanced technologies, such as ink created from captured air pollution, or paint grown by bioluminescent microbes, others dig into more traditional crafts, using naturally occurring dyes from roots and berries, and even the leftover Marigold Flowers from Día De los Muertos that usually end up in the landfill. Many of the shoes featured are hand-made one-offs; others released with very limited production runs.
A Virtual Store in the Middle of Nowhere
The Renew Labs Store, created by Virtue, the agency born from VICE, is a 360° Mixed Reality environment that gives visitors from all over the world the experience of standing and shopping on the Garbage Patch.
To some, this might seem like a contradiction between consumption and conservation, but not to Maggie Zhou, who is a slow fashion advocate and the one of the driving forces and All Stars behind the project: “I’ve always been an advocate for high style with low impact — but with this project, we wanted to do one better: What if style could have a positive impact?”
Included in the Renew Labs store virtual experience, visitors will be able to explore additional sustainable and eco-friendly brands, including Bianca Boyd, Juno Araya and Cush Coma.
By playing with the popular perception of the Garbage Patch, the All Stars can both raise awareness around the issue, and drive tangible, direct action to support ocean clean-up.
All Proceeds Go To Cleaning Up Ocean Plastic
Seeing that so few sustainable prototype units and sizes could be made available for the general public during these early stages of renewable material testing, we decided not to put the sneakers up for sale, but rather put them to better use.
That decision led to a model where the prototypes are given away freely to anyone who donates to Take3.org through the virtual Renew Labs store. The store will also feature and sell the Renew Crater, Converse’s most sustainable mass market model.
The proceeds from these initiatives will be donated in full to the nonprofit that is committed to cleaning ocean plastic, with the goal to remove one million pieces of trash. This way, every pair of shoes ‘sold’ takes the store closer to removing its own foundation — and closing it down for good.
For more information on the project, or if you are interested in browsing the store, please visit: renewlabs.com