When I was in Kenya, I has the opportunity to visit the Ocean Sole Company which I refer to as “The Flip Flop Factory” in Nairobi. Inside the workshop, they take old sandals and other polluting pieces of rubber that have washed up on beaches and turned them into colorful animal sculptures, key-chains, necklaces and kids toys. In Kenya, as well as in other developing countries, flip-flops are the footwear of choice due to their affordability and convenience. After people are done with them, masses of broken rubber flip-flops are dumped in cities and villages and then carried to sewage systems, rivers and other waterways into Kenyan coastlines. Then more than 10 suppliers collect the flipflops from the waterways and deliver them to the workshop (they recycle 400,000 flip-flops every year). Then, the workers go through the bags of flip-flops and clean the rubber soles and sort them by color. Then, they cut and sand them as they turn these colorful sandals into amazing creations. If that isn’t cool enough, the little pieces(scraps) that they do not use are places in playgrounds in place of dirt or artificial turf. There is not a part of the flip-flops that go to waste. I tried to capture the process above but it really doesn’t do it justice.
To learn more- visit their website and support their great cause!