Kenyan Company Saving Environment by Recycling Slippers

  • The logo of Ocean sole Company in Kenya
    The logo of Ocean sole Company in Kenya
  • Sandals are the most popular type of shoe in the world, with more than 3 billion produced every year, making them easy and comfortable to wear.

    Unfortunately, most of them end up in Ocean waters, and are a major threat to aquatic life and the environment in general.

    In Kenya the coastline is often littered with the slippers that come from different parts of the world as far as India.

    “Some trash is even coming as far as from India, Philippines, to over here. So sometimes we are shocked,” Sally Adowa Beach Clean Up Volunteer.

    An undated photo of a woman making the sculptures from the slippers
    An undated photo of a woman making the sculptures from the slippers

    Slippers currently make up about 25% of ocean plastic in some places. One company in Kenya is turning flip flops  into colourful works of art.

    The team of sculptors at Ocean sole in Nairobi Kenya is curving the most foot wear  on the planet into hippos, giraffes, whales that are sold as sculptures, with the most expensive sculptures going at over Sh 43,200.

    Some of the sculptures include Giraffes, Starfish, Carmels, elephants and antelopes among others.

    The firm aims to recycle a million slippers every year, crafting them into precious sculptures that are now sold all over the world. 

    The company has also provided employment to more than 1,000 Kenyans, many of whom work as flip-flop collectors or artists, and contributes 10% to 15% of overall revenue to vocational and educational programs for residents, as well as beach cleanup and conservation efforts.

    “We have a network of collectors that collect the slippers from the weekly  beach clean up efforts at the Coast of Kenya,” Joe one of the Company workers stated

    So far the firm is said to have cleaned up around 10 million sandals from beaches, streets and landfills.

    “The slippers cost like a dollar but the problem with that is that they break very easily, so what you have is a huge menace of flip flops everywhere,” Joe, an employee of the company stated.

    The company also buys the slippers from individuals at an equivalent of 30 cents US per kilogram.

    The process of making the art begins with the slippers going through a thorough hand wash process using water and detergent. They are then dried for two to three hours before artists begin to work on them to make sculptures.

    Further, it takes 2 hours to complete the smaller pieces of sculptures but larger sculptures often take 3 months to complete.

     The company also makes mattresses from the flip flops which it donates to refugees in Northern Kenya.

    Additionally, the pandemic and the Ukraine war has brought challenges, making the supply chain to be messed up, with shipping costs exponentially surging. 

    Occasionally, the firm takes on special projects. In 2019, the company made a dealership to Alabama, United States by making a life sized car. 

    The firm has also received numerous inquiries from India, Indonesia, Brazil that have the some people but have the intention of setting shops in their countries.

    Images of the sculptures made by the Company
    Undated Images of the sculptures made from slippers by the Company