At Ocean Sole Africa, we have been picking up beach trash since 2005. Early on the catalyst for action was the inability of sea turtles to lay their eggs in Kiwayu Island off the coast of Kenya. Due to the tidal trash that filled the beaches, the sea turtles were unable to create nests and therefore the community decided to act.
The local mamas started cleaning beaches and finding very odd things on the beach: toothbrushes, lighters, shoes, flip flops, plastic bottles, nets and kilos of microplastics. This was a foreshadowing of the current ocean plastic issues we see highlighted today globally. During these beach clean-ups, the mamas began to take the discarded flip flops and other beach trash and make toys for the children. This gave the idea to our Founder to see if there was a way to make flip flop sculptures or flip flop art to advocate for ocean conservation and clean beaches in Kenya.
Over the past years, it has evolved into one of the first organizations to support coastal communities to clean their beaches. By financially supporting and educating those most impacted by dirty beaches and negative consequences the trash has had on their livelihoods, we have been leading the charge for years. Currently, when someone supports us by buying our art, every $20 pulls over 145 pounds of trash from the Ocean. We don’t pull 1 pound as others claim - but 145 pounds of trash from high impact communities in Kenya.
We have really perfected how we go about making our flip flop art sculptures. It is quite unique and we are the ORIGINAL flip flop art sculpture organization. Don’t be fooled by others, they don’t have the circular approach we do to economic empowerment, job creation, ocean conservation or social impact programs. We are committed to our high impact communities, conservation action organizations and employees.
Transforming discarded flip flops into flip flop sculpture art
Often, we are asked how do you make these beautiful recycled ocean plastic products?
Our process is unique and not as simple as some may think. At Ocean Sole Africa, we are better than those that copy us because we have invested in skills, equipment and techniques to finesse our art, which you can clearly see in the quality and the uniqueness of the flip flop sculptures. Make sure you buy original from Ocean Sole Africa!
Step 1 - Clean Beaches
This is where we engage local communities to clean beaches. We collect all the trash on the beach and Ocean Sole Africa purchases the flip flops from the local entrepreneurs. We usually let the local communities organize the beach cleanups. We find this to be more successful when they are self-organized.
Step 2 - Clean the flip flop beach trash
The communities bring the flip flops to Ocean Sole Africa. We have a women’s group that is responsible for washing and disinfecting the flip flop debris. Once the flip flops are clean, we sort them by colour for the artist.
Step 3 - The artist starts to carve and design and make some unique discarded flip flops handmade art:
During this step, the artists are going to make recycled flip flop animals. We can make all sorts of animals and are artisans love to find unique things to make. Sometimes custom or from our standard Recycled Flip Flop Sculpture catalogue.
Currently, our customers favourite recycled flip flop animals are the following and you can purchase from us online:
- Recycled flip flop elephant
- Recycle flip flop turtle
- Recycled flip flop giraffe
- Recycle flip flop zebra
- Recycled flip flop rhino
- Recycle flip flop dolphin
- Recycled flip flop whale
- Recycle flip flop dinosaur
- Recycled flip flop hippo
- Recycled flip flop warthog
- Recycled flip flop hearts
- Recycled flip flop lion
- Recycled flip flop penguin
- Recycled flip flop dog
Step 4 – Sanding and Washing our recycled flip flop animals
After our artisans have created the recycled flip flop sculptures we spend our time carefully using both manual and automatic sanders to shape the flip flop sculpture to make them come alive with personality and uniqueness. A good wash and they are ready for their forever home!
Step 5 – Finding a forever home
We spend a lot of time trying to make sure our recycled flip flop art is going to a forever home that appreciates the impact Ocean Sole Africa makes for its employees, communities and conservation. Our passion is making discarded flip flop handmade art and we hope you love our Kenyan sculptures that make a very compassionate sustainable gift for yourself or others.
As always, Santé Sana for supporting our mission.
Last week we celebrated National Flip Flop Day, Read out our blog to know more.