From flip flop to work of art
Because they are not worth much, thousands of flip flops are abandoned on the Kenyan coast, or wash up on the country's shores, transported by sea currents, every year. Some of them could even come from as far away as Malaysia!
It was to limit this rampant pollution that Julie Church, a young Kenyan biologist, decided to create the Ocean Sole company in 1997. She set up a flip flop collection initiative, in which flip flops are collected by hand on the beaches and along the rivers throughout the year. The collected flip flops are then given to 50 local artists who, with minimal resources, transform this waste into colourful and poetic sculptures. Through this initiative, Ocean Sole aims to reduce the pollution caused by the plastic waste, while raising awareness among the local population as regards not throwing things away and ensuring that they recycle. At the same time, it creates jobs in a country that has been hit hard by unemployment. Ocean Sole currently employs around one hundred individuals, in addition to the locals paid for collecting and cleaning the flip flops.
In 2015, 400,000 used flip flops were recycled: they have been given a new lease of life in the form of jewellery and animal sculptures of all sizes and colours. 70% of them are exported, purchased by private individuals, companies, zoos, aquariums and museums around the world!
This is how Twiga the giraffe came to be invited as the guest star at the upcoming Polytalk scheduled to take place on 16 and 17 March: a legitimate trip since the 2 days of the 2016 Forum, entitled "Zero Plastics To The Oceans" will be devoted to marine litter. Politicians, representatives of the plastic industry, scientists and NGOs will try to come up with solutions in order to ensure that "Together, we can prevent waste from ending up in the oceans". Ocean Sole has long understood that plastic waste dumped at sea is a treasure trove and a source of creativity!
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