Flip flops and similar types of sandals provide inexpensive footwear for millions or people in developing countries. Kenya's beaches are littered with thousands of discarded flip-flops that have washed up on shore after drifting in the Indian Ocean. Virtually indestructible, not only are they unsightly but are also harmful to marine life, especially to sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs.
Dr. Julie Church, a marine biologist who was studying sea turtles, set out to change this and thus began Ocean Sole.
People are paid by Ocean Sole to collect flip flops and bring them to their Nairobi workshop. There skilled artisans clean them and carve them into beautiful and fantastic objects, including the popular safari animals. In the past these same artists likely would have been fashioning similar items in wood cut from Kenyan’s forests.
Ocean Sole’s success has created sustained, meaningful employment for its staff, providing them not only with good wages but also access to health insurance and social security. In the process, forests are protected (since items are crafted from discarded flip flops and not from wood), and the beaches are cleaner and safer for sea turtles and other creatures.
Sizes vary from carving to carving, depending on the animal. Each item is unique. See below for examples.
25 to 50 centimetres
From 2 to 3 metres
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