Old Flip Flops Find New Life in Kenya

On December 9, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

Every summer, we all wear our stylish flip flops to the beach and pool. But, most of us don’t give any thought to what happens to them after they’re worn out. In Kenya, the warm climate leads to an overabundance of old flip flops. Many of them are discarded by their owners, left at the beach or at other places, creating garbage and polluting the environment. But 16 years ago one conservationist decided she wanted to find a way to recycle all of this “trash.” And today’s result? Treasure.

MAKING FLIP FLOP ART

Today, Marula Studios and the Ocean Sole Flip Flop Recycling Company are the dedicated result of years of hard work to help recycle old flip flops and protect the environment. The company currently receives 400,000 flip flops a year. Believe it or not, flip flops are the one of the largest marine pollutants on Kenya’s beaches.

flip-flop-art

Flip flop turtles in every color of the rainbow!

Once the factory receives the shipments, workers clean and disinfect each flip flop. The flops are sorted into colors. The employees, many of them trained wood carvers, use old foam to create the basic animal shape. From there, they add flip flop pieces. Then the piece of art is shaved and carved to perfection. Finally, the finished product is washed and disinfected one more time before being sold. Most of the craftsmen specialize in making a specific animal in flip flop art.

flip-flop-art

These elephants will crush you… with cuteness.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

“I think it’s making a big difference because from the beach, when they get out the flip flops they are saving the life of fish, so marine animal life is saved,” said Maurine Oyoo, quality-control supervisor and factory tour guide. “If you buy the products made out of flip flop recycling, you find that you cannot throw away everything you have. You can use it to make something more precious.”

The flip flop factory creates more than 11 different types of animals, as well as mobiles and jewelry. While these products were originally sold only in Kenya, they’re now being sold throughout the world. Looking for these fine examples of flip flop art in the United States? Your best bet is to visit the zoo.

Visit Ocean Sole Flip Flop Recycling Company’s website.

-C.K.

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