Fida Finds: Ocean Sole’s recycled flip-flop toys

Another Friday, another pick from the web. We call these Fida (Friday) Finds.

Large Champali Elephant by uniqueco.designs (flipflopiwas)

Have you ever found a lost or discarded flip-flop?

We’re willing to bet the answer is yes. These cheap, practical shoes are worn all over the world, from Californian beaches in the US to downtown Accra here in Ghana.

Ghanaians call flip-flops chale wote, which translates as “My friend, let’s go” – a very poetic way to describe their slip-on-and-go appeal, if you ask us.

The phrase has even inspired an annual street art festival in Accra.

Unfortunately, chale wote can make a mess. They come off easily and wear out quickly. All too often, they end up as trash in a public space.

In coastal areas the problem becomes even worse. The world’s oceans are full of plastic waste, and that includes flip-flops. Lots of them.

Many are washed up on the beaches of Africa, where they spoil scenery, harm wildlife and affect local industries such as fishing.

A bright idea

In 1997, a marine conservationist named Julie Church saw children on Kenya’s Kiwayu island collecting colorful flip-flops and turning them into toys.

Over the next 15 years, she helped turn the children’s instinctive ‘upcycling‘ into a community business.

In the hands of creative Kenyans, those discarded chale wote became desirable things: art, fashion and toys.

Julie’s company Ocean Sole now makes everything from jewellery to large-scale animal sculptures.

As you can see, its products look fantastic – and they help keep Kenya’s beaches clean too.

Flip-flop truck toy by uniqueco.designs (flipflopiwas), on Flickr

Ocean Sole’s work has been:

  • Featured in BBC documentaries
  • Sent to major museums
  • Shown on catwalks
  • Recognised with an Energy Globe Award

If children’s homemade toys can grow into all this, how many potential businesses do you think there are in our Galimoto! gallery?

Here are a few more pictures to feast your eyes on:

Keyrings Assorted

Chamalie Marine Puzzle FIT0051

Medium Champali Planes FIT0026 (Individual)

Photos: Official flickr account of UniquEco Designs / Ocean Sole

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  1. […] Here’s a treat. Our last ‘Fida Finds‘ post featured Ocean Sole, a Kenyan company that makes cool products out of washed-up flip-flops. […]

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