WoW! Floating keyrings made from recycled flip-flops in Kenya!
A large part of the world’s population, especially in developing countries, walks around on flip-flops made from rubber foam (polyurethane). These types of shoes are cheap to buy, but not sustainable. Coupled with an underdeveloped waste processing system, this means that in countries like Kenya, those flip-flops end up littering the environment and the oceans. The planet – including the humans and animals living here – pays a heavy price for this.
Waste that floats in the ocean is picked up by currents and often drifts together – generating what’s known as plastic soup. It’s essentially a large island made of floating plastic that forms in the ocean. Through the salt in the seawater and the ultraviolet rays in sunlight, this plastic very slowly breaks down into tiny fragments.
Many of these small plastic particles end up in the food chain via the stomachs of birds and marine animals – resulting in poisoning of these creatures, as well as the disruption of their hormonal balance. What’s more, a large part of the plastic soup (including flip-flops) washes up on shore in Kenya and elsewhere.
From flip-flops to keyrings
The flip-flops that wash up on shore are collected by employees from Ocean Sole, who are paid a fair wage. This encourages local people to keep their beaches clean. First, any stones, glass or other debris is removed from the flip-flops, after which they’re thoroughly washed and disinfected. The foam is then sanded down until smooth, and the key rings are cut by hand – a lengthy process.
Ocean Sole maintains a healthy margin to pay their employees fairly and to provide them with a hot meal while at work. Ocean Sole also provides a savings plan for schools (doubling money saved) so that children of staff members can attend school and build a better quality of life.