Flip flop art
Buy fun sculptures which save the planet and help poor communities from this clever Sussex-based social enterprise
We always knew plastic was bad for the environment but it took national treasure David Attenborough showing us through Blue Planet to spur a lot of us into action.
One enterprise that is ahead of the game however is Brighton-based Ocean Sole, which has not only been gathering plastic from the sea for the last few years, but turning it into eye-catching art.
Flip Flops are in everyday use in Asia but because they frequently break and are thrown away, thousands end up in the sea, hitching a ride on currents – next stop Kenya.
Over time the shoes photo-degrade, breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces to form part of the man-made soup that is harming our waters. Ocean Sole’s clever solution is to turn that plastic into profit to help people in need.
Rescuing the floating footwear when it hits land on the east coast of Africa, the enterprise then glues together and hand carves the finds, turning them into model animals such as elephants, dolphins and giraffes, which are sold to the public (see the neat video on Ocean Sole’s Facebook page). This cleverly creates a steady wage for over 150 low-income Kenyans, so it is helping not only ocean life but vulnerable people.
The Ocean Sole story featured on the BBC’s Indian Ocean with Simon Reeves and the Pope even took an extra large elephant back to the Vatican when he visited Kenya in 2015.
Last year coastal communities in Kenya were paid to collect 520,000 flip-flops and Ocean Sole increased the number of its full time employees from 50 to 92, all of which, in addition to their salary, get a free hot meal a day. It also educated over 1,000 Kenyan children about the dangers of ocean plastics.
Muddy met Ocean Sole at Paddle Round the Pier and Artists Open Houses in Brighton and heard plans were afoot to sell it’s fun sculptures online.
Now, hurrah, you can buy them wherever you are – doing your bit for a great cause while brightening up your home.