September 14, 2022 at 12:41 pm

Discarded Flip-Flops on Beaches in Kenya Are Turned Into Stunning Sculptures

by Matthew Gilligan

Ocean Sole is an organization that cleans the beaches and waterways of Kenya. The people involved are protecting the environment, supporting marine conservation, creating jobs…and they’re making art with the discarded flip-flops they find on the beaches.

Marine conservationist Julie Church founded Ocean Sole as a way to deal with the overwhelming number of discarded flip-flops that end up on beaches and in the ocean. She decided to upcycle the forgotten footwear into beautiful and vibrant sculptures.

Church was working in Kenya in the late 1990s when she saw an entire beach covered in flip-flops, which harmed marine animals and prevented locals from fishing in places they used to.

She also noticed that young kids would take discarded flip-flops and make toys out of them, so she encouraged the kids and their mothers to collect the footwear, wash it, make it into art, and sell their art at local markets.


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The idea was successful and Church founded Ocean Sole in 1998. Today, the goal of the nonprofit is to collect 1 million flip-flops every year and turn them into art. The organization impacts more than 1,000 people who collect flip-flops from beaches or make sculptures out of them.

Also, 10-15% of the revenue generated goes to vocational and educational programs for local residents and toward the conservation and the cleanup of local beaches.

Art from Ocean Sole has been showcased all over the world, including at the London Zoo, Rome’s Fashion Week, and the Swedish Cultural Museum.

Julie Church is hoping that the concept of Ocean Sole spreads to other countries and areas that also have high pollution problems and high unemployment, and the organization is encouraging companies to use more environmentally-friendly materials to make flip-flops.


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