A staggering 3 billion people on planet earth wear flip flops as their primary form of shoe as they are so affordable.
Flip Flops are made from a combination of Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate and other plastics and they do not biodegrade. They do however photo-degrade, breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces to form part of the plastic soup plaguing our oceans.
50% of those flip flops are consumed in Asia. The refuse systems in many Asian countries are poor and the flip flops end up in the rivers. The rivers lead to the sea where the trade-winds drive them onto the east coast of Africa (provided marine animals don’t consume them en route). It’s not just the east coast of Africa that’s affected though – we’re seeing flip flop pollution from South America to the Himalayan river systems.
Ocean Sole have been making a positive impact since 1998 by:
- Cleaning up over 1,000 tonnes of flip-flops from the Ocean and waterways of Kenya.
- Providing a steady income to over 150 low-income Kenyans in the social enterprise and extended supply-chain.
- Contributing over 10% of the revenue to marine conservation programmes.
Ocean Sole was founded by Julie Church in 1999. Inspired by the toys children were making out of the flip-flops washing up on the beaches of Kiwayu, Julie encouraged their mothers to collect, wash, and cut the discarded flip-flops into colourful products.
She worked with them to develop the products and in 2005 the social enterprise was born promoting “trade not aid”.
The company has grown ever since. We featured on the BBC’s Indian Ocean with Simon Reeves and even the Pope took an Extra Large elephant home when he visited Kenya in 2015.