med elephant sculpture

Ever wonder what happens to all those plastic and rubber flip-flops (or back in my day thongs) that get discarded and end up as part of the plastic flotsam in the ocean?

Well, Ocean Sole is doing something with it.  Ocean Sole is a recycling company in Kenya started in 1997 when “with curious fascination, co-founder Julie Church watched how local children used this marine debris — cast-off flip-flops and other junk they’d found by the sea — to create their own toys to play with.”

Loved the bit about curious fascination. How often isn’t that the key to that “aha” life changing moment?

From that curious fascination, Ocean Sole, a recycling company, was born and is crafting whimsical pieces of art and fashion from discarded flip-flops and other plastic junk — piles of rubbish that wash up on Kenya’s sandy beaches.”

I’ve seen first hand the awful plastic pollution that chokes pristine beaches, harming wild life and generally showing human waste as a blight on this beautiful planet.  My ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of trash we need to even recycle, especially plastics which don’t disappear, only becoming invisible to the eye for now.  Until then the idea of recycling and reusing what we already have is very appealing.  Ocean Soles has found a way to create beautiful, useful art from what most of us would only see as colourful garbage.  The colourful choices include sculptures, gifts, Bespoke products, and even seasonal items.

According to a CNN article, the business has grown to employ 70 people, their creations can be seen in numerous places around the world, and they have created a sustainable industry using the idea that is becoming more popular and successful; Trade, Not Aid.

I can hear the naysayers now, “But that’s just one example, a drop in the bucket.  The world’s problems are far bigger than just a few flip flops.”  And they’d be right.  Except for two things they’re forgetting.  

Enough drops fill that bucket to over flowing, little things over time and when combined reap big results.  

They are not the only ones.  There are more and more entrepreneurs and even companies that are beginning to put their time, ideas and money on the line and make a difference. Just check out the CNN article for more stories and links about African Start-up.

There will always be “problems” for us to see and challenges to face, but if we remember to look at life with a curious fascination, we will be more likely see a path to create something both whimsical and life changing all at the same time.  

We appreciate Ocean Sole for sharing their curious fascination and colourful garbage on the path to whimsical beauty.  Check out their website for their fascinating story and pictures of their creations and artisans.

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©2014 J.Fries/Rise Like Air