Ocean Sole

Turning flip-flops into art is a powerful way to raise awareness of the problem of waste on Kenyan shores and waterways. Over three billion flipflops are produced every year and eventually end up as non-biodegradable refuse in landfills, waterways and oceans. Scientific reports estimate that around 20 per cent of ocean pollution consists of flip-flops. Ocean Sole aims to recycle a million flip-flops a year, recycling over one tonne of styrofoam a month. In addition to creating jobs in a country with high unemployment, the initiative also contributes between 10 and 15 per cent of revenue from sales to beach clean-ups, vocational and educational programmes, and other conservation efforts.

The founder, Julie Church, was inspired by the toys children were making out of the flip-flop debris and started working with their mothers to create products to sell at local markets. Today, with Erin Smith anchoring as CEO, the Ocean Sole community consists of 50 full-time carvers, eight administrative staff, as well as over 1,000 parttime employees involved in collecting flip-flops to upcycle this waste to use in other daily products such as mattresses.