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How it's made // Ocean Sole

The colorful Ocean Sole images are not only great to see, the story behind the images is also inspiring and impressive. As soon as one hears what material was used to make the images, one looks in disbelief; flip flops (flip flops)?

The colorful Ocean Sole images are not only great to see, the story behind the images is also inspiring and impressive. As soon as one hears what material was used to make the images, one looks in disbelief; flip flops (flip flops) ?!

Passionate about the oceans, sustainability and aware of the importance of ecosystems, Ocean Sole tackles pollution from flip flops and other plastics.
A large part of the world's population - especially in developing countries - walks on flip-flops made of foam rubber (polyurethane). This footwear is cheap to buy, but not durable in use. This, in combination with an underdeveloped waste processing system, ensures that in countries such as Kenya the flip flops end up in nature and ultimately in the oceans. With all consequences for humans and animals.


The Plastic Soup

Waste that floats in the sea is carried along by sea currents and often remains in a place where they come together, this is called the 'Plastic Soup'. The Plastic Soup is a large 'island' of floating plastics that has formed in the oceans. Due to the salty seawater and ultraviolet light, this plastic slowly disintegrates into very fine pieces.
Many of these small plastic particles end up in the stomachs of birds and marine animals via the food chain, resulting in poisoning and disruption of the hormone balance in these animals. In addition, a large part of the Plastic Soup (including the flip-flops) washes up on the beaches of Kenya, among others.

Ocean Sole's method

The washed up flip flops are collected and cleaned by Ocean Sole employees. Then the flip-flops are glued into large blocks, from which the creative team of craftsmen carves the most beautiful images. Elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinoceroses and many more famous animals of the African savannah come to life from the flip flops. Every Ocean Sole artist has his or her own specialty. For example, one artist is better at shaping the smallest models, while another ventures into the largest creations!


Ocean Sole contributes to a solution for three local and global issues that affect everyone: it prevents and remedies pollution of land and sea by these plastics, it creates employment and limits logging for works of art.

  1. Ocean Sole collects and processes around 1 million flip flops annually. In addition, Ocean Sole creates more awareness among the local population by using the proceeds from the artworks to provide information about pollution, recycling and to finance other recycling projects.

  2. Ocean Sole creates employment. Kenya has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the world, about 40 percent of the population is unemployed. The vast majority of these are low or uneducated and illiterate. In Nairobi alone, Ocean Sole has employed about 100 people. In addition, there is a large group of people who are paid to collect discarded flip-flops.

  3. Ocean Sole reduces logging. Many of the artists who work for Ocean Sole come from tribes known for their wood carvings. The wooden statues they produced were popular with tourists. By switching to flip-flops as the basic material, the cut of tropical hardwoods in Kenya is limited.

Ocean Sole's artworks convey an important message about the importance of protecting the marine environment and their cheerful colors bring a smile to many people's faces at the same time!


Some figures to know:

  • The Plastic Soup is an island of floating plastics in the ocean, 34 times the size of the Netherlands.
  • The worldwide turnover of flip flops is estimated at a whopping 15 billion, which is more than the entire sports shoe market.
  • With an average income of $ 2 a day, flip flops are the only type of footwear many people in developing countries can afford.
  • Ocean Sole collects and processes around 750,000 flip flops annually.


Jonathan takes you on a small safari through the workshop


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