Kenyan artists turn flip-flops into creative animal models at Ocean Sole

Kenyan artists turn flip-flops into creative animal models

With the world growing in global climate change due to the fact that reckless humans are constantly poisoning the vast oceans with plastic garbage. A lot of advocates for climate and environment have stood up to help save the world.

In Africa for instance, there are lots of landfills caused by plastic waste dumped on roadsides, and the ocean is largely polluted by flip-flops that wash up ashore from rivers and other countries using the Indian ocean.

Deal of the day

Due to their inexpensive price, poor durability and commonness around the world, flip-flops have become the greatest culprits in environmental pollution. Everyday tonnes of plastic waste deposited in the Indian ocean are washed ashore of the East African coast.

Despite of government efforts to stop the spread of plastic wastes, including the ban of plastic bags in Kenya, the results yielded was too low to undo the environmental error. Plastic is very hard to decompose by itself and it may take up to hundreds of years.

The tiny plastic that you use and dispose later in your homes can have adverse effects in our global environment.

Meanwhile here in Kenya, a marine conservation group called, Ocean Sole, are interestingly getting the job done. These artists turn flip-flops into creative animal models. The marine conservation group collects thousands of waste flip-flops and then turn them into colourful work of art.

The group has taken up measures to clean up the fragile ecosystem in a way that is both beneficial to the society’s economy and environment, including the marine life that gets suffocated by plastic waste.

Brief history of Ocean Sole

Ocean Sole was founded by Julie Church, a Kenyan biologist who in 1997 noticed that children were making toys out of old flip-flops that washed up on beaches of Kiwayu in Lamu County, north east of Kenya.

With lack of proper employment in that region, Church became opportunistic and started a movement to encourage the natives to collect and assemble old flip-flops and turn them into work of art.

A year later, Ocean Sole sold the first batch of artwork in Nairobi. Later on, WWF Switzerland learned about the Kenyan marine conservation group and placed an order of 15,000 flip-flop-made turtles.

Turtle models made of flip-flops by Ocean Sole

Their artwork process

Their process is manual and not machine work. While the life of the flip-flops may end up into the ocean when it gets old and useless. The journey at Ocean Sole begins by collecting it, cleaning it, compressing it and then carving it into beautiful art to be revived again with love.

Upon arrival at the Ocean Sole warehouses, the plastic waste is washed with eco-detergent so that they can be usable in art. They are then sorted by colour.

The cleaned plastic are then glued onto a wooden block depending on the size of the model, could be medium or large.

About three layers of the flip-flops are added to make sure the wooden blocks are covered and the artists get to creatively shape the models into desired animals.

Up to this day their products have been featured in various places in the world including, London, Rome, Paris, New York, Australia, Singapore and Amsterdam.

Flip-flop-made models by Ocean Sole

Their mission is to promote a clean and diverse culture using the work of art. Every year over 500,000 flip-flops and crocs are purchased from the coastal locals who help clear plastic waste washed ashore for recycling. The group has now employed over 100 Kenyans and contributes a significant 10-15 percent of their revenue to marine conservation programmes in the country.

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