News / Arts & Entertainment

'Ocean Sole' Turns Washed-up Flip-Flops Into Art

Ocean Sole: Turning Trash Into Arti
X
Mackenzie Buckwalter
July 03, 2014 12:19 AM
From Kenya to Washington may seem a long way to travel to spread a simple environmental message. But one group from Nairobi is doing just that at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Mackenzie Buckwalter has more for VOA on their work cleaning up their nation’s coastline -- and turning discarded rubber sandals into art.
Mackenzie Buckwalter

Francis Mutua has been a wood craftsman for years. But today, the Kenyan artist is working with a much softer material -- plastic flip-flops.

And as he cuts and glues the raw materials and recycles them into whimsical animal sculptures, he's also cleaning up his nation's coastline.

Tens of thousands of plastic sandals are collected each year by the non-profit environmental group called Ocean Sole. The discarded flip-flops wash up on Kenya’s beaches and are tossed out in its poor neighborhoods.

“In the slums, people use a lot of sandals," said Mutua. "When they are finished, they discard them. There are people who walk and collect them and bring them to the compound.” 

Finished toy animals made from discarded flip-flops are laid out in rows to dry in the sun at the Ocean Sole flip-flop recycling company in Nairobi, Kenya.Finished toy animals made from discarded flip-flops are laid out in rows to dry in the sun at the Ocean Sole flip-flop recycling company in Nairobi, Kenya.

At the Ocean Sole workshop in Nairobi, the sandals are turned into eye-catching art by Mutua and 50 other artisans.  

Ocean Sole was founded in 1997 by Kenyan conservationist Julie Church, who sees the project as a way to promote change in how people live.  

“Being able to impact people through training, education and awareness in a much greater level -- right now we’re just dealing with the clean-up," said Church. "If we get more people involved in cleaning up their act, I think we can do something.” 

Workers collect the washed-up flip-flops and bring them to Ocean Sole’s headquarters to be cleaned and sorted. There, they are glued together, sanded and given new life.  

Ocean Sole brought Mutua and several other artisans to Washington DC for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, to demonstrate their craft and spread their environmental message.

As he displays his work, Mutua said Ocean Sole has changed his life - and his country - in ways he did not expect.

“The difference made by these," he said, "we are saving the environment."

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”