Source: Ocean Sole

Flip the flop: gorgeous art made from discarded flip flops

Ocean Sole creates gorgeous animal art made from flip flops found on the shores of Kenya.

Ocean Sole

This Kenyan social enterprise uses discarded flip flops that are found on the shores of Kenya to make gorgeous animal art. They turn trash into treasure and create jobs while they’re at it!

Flippin the flop: art made from discarded flip flops Ocean Sole cleans up shores and turn trash into gorgeous art. Source: Facebook BrightVibes
Can you believe this beautiful turtle is made from old flip-flops?
Trash into treasure Can you believe this beautiful turtle is made from old flip-flops? Source: Ocean Sole

Flip-flop waste

Tons of waste in the form of flip-flops wash up on the shore in Kiwayu, Kenya. They cause a huge environmental disaster for marine life and local communities.

The flip-flop is the most popular shoe on earth: they’re more popular than sports shoes due to the low price. For over 3 billion people, the flip-flop is the only pair of shoes they own. They ‘re made by the million and are available everywhere. Unfortunately, they’re not very durable and millions are discarded each year, many of which end up on the shores and in the sea.

In 1999, Ocean Sole founder Julie Church was inspired by the toys children were making out of the discarded flip-flops. She encouraged the children’s mothers to collect wash and cut the discarded flip-flops into colourful products.

Since Ocean Sole was founded, they have been advocates for finding solutions to the ocean waste by turning the trash into cash and treasure, helping both the eco-system and local communities.

Ocean Sole creates beautiful animals out of the flip-flops. From small turtles, to enormous giraffes and even custom made creations. 

A gorgeous statement piece!
A gorgeous statement piece! Source: Facebook Ocean Sole NL

How it Works

Ocean Sole collects about 400.000 flip -flops each year and 300 kilograms of waste each day. Local workers and employees collect the flip-flops continuously  and deliver them to local ocean communities. Here the flip-flops are prepared to be sent to Ocean Sole. At Ocean Sole the flip-flops arrive covered in dirt, sand and oil. They’re weighed and counted in order to determine the price. Next, the flip-flops are washed with eco-detergent in order to be able to use in in art. The flip-flops are sorted into colour, ready to be used for artworks.

Next, the flip-flops are glued onto a block of wood for medium or large animals. More than three layers of flip-flops are added to ensure that the wood is fully covered even after the carving process. Then, local artists and craftsman carve beautiful animal art out of the flip-flop blocks.

The social entreprise has provided steady income for over 150 low-income Kenyans in their company and supply chain. 40% Of the Kenyan population is unemployed, most of whom are low- or unskilled and illiterate. The art is very personal as well. Each artist is responsible for a certain type of animal and who is responsible for which piece of art is mentioned on the website. So when you buy a piece of art, you’ll know exactly who benefits from your purchase!

David Kaloki with his signature hippo and giraffe
Beautiful, personal artwork David Kaloki with his signature hippo and giraffe Source: Ocean Sole

Greening Simba

Every year, Ireland has a greening initiative which makes some of the world’s most famous attractions green, to mark Saint Patrick’s day and to recognise that green is the national colour of Ireland.

This year, the Irish Embassy Kenya collaborated with Kenya Commercial bank and they ‘greened’ a Lion, made by Ocean Sole.

The initiative wants to raise awareness of conservations and bring attention to the Lion, whose numbers are dwindling in Kenya (less than 2000!). It also wants to raise awareness of recycling and how this can be used to clean up the environment and oceans while also creating jobs for those involved. 

The project is called Greening Simba and the Lion, named Taji, will be displayed in the Safari Walk area of Nairobi National Park. The Lion was made with

  • 1,024 flip-flops 
  • 20 kg styrofoam

The Greening Simba initiative will continue at Ocean Sole for the coming twelve months to keep raising awareness for both Lions and recycling. 25% of the profits of all Ocean Sole’s Lion art will go to Lion conservations programs in Kenya.

Source: Ocean Sole

Source: Ocean Sole

Buy a cleaner shore

Purchase beautiful Ocean Sole art here. Find out what collections they have. From safari animals to marine creatures

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