The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 8, 2013

Kenya company turns old sandals into colorful objects


From The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — The colorful handmade giraffes, elephants and warthogs made in a Nairobi workshop were once only dirty pieces of rubber cruising the Indian Ocean’s currents.

Kenya’s Ocean Sole sandal recycling company is cleaning the East African country’s beaches of used, washed-up flip-flops.

Workers in Nairobi make about 100 different products from the discarded flip-flops. In 2008 the company shipped an 18-foot giraffe to Rome for display during a fashion week.

Company founder Julie Church says the goal of her company is to create products that people want to buy, then make them interested in the back-story.

Workers wash the flip-flops, many of which have been repaired several times. Artisans then glue together the various colors, carve the products, sand and rewash them.