Innovation That Matters

Discarded flip flops turned into gifts and works of art


Kenya’s Ocean Sole flip flop recycling company turns potential marine pollution into employment opportunities for artisans who create gifts and sculptures.

With a goal of recycling 400,000 flip flops each year, Kenya-based Ocean Sole is clearing up one of the most common forms of ocean pollution. As well as improving the look of the East African coastline, the company is helping to keep marine life safe, preventing many thousands of deaths of fish, birds and other animals that swallow plastic. Ocean Sole employs more than 100 artisans across Nairobi and the country’s coastal communities to turn discarded flip flops into a variety of gifts and sculptures.

Gifts range from door stoppers and bracelets to animal-shaped pen tops and key rings. Sculptures range in size from small to extra large as well as being available as one-off commissions. Products are stocked worldwide, with wholesale options available upon request. The company has also set up a marine conservation and education foundation and contributes 10 percent of the business’ production costs to the campaigning work.

Plastic waste, and particularly that clogging the world’s oceans, is being used to create new products that include boots, bags and building blocks. How could some of the successes of these types of projects and businesses be combined or scaled up for industrial level production?



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