Flipflopi Project - Lamu, Kenya.

Who is the Flipflopi

We are a community and volunteer-led project who want to see an end to all unnecessary plastics across the world. 

Our journey began on the coast of Kenya, though we want our message to spread worldwide! 

We have a vision of a world without unnecessary single-use plastics. To do this we built a boat. Not just any boat, but one made of recycled plastics collected up and down the coast of Kenya. Using only local know-how, patience, innovation and unerring hope that it was possible! Once she was built we clad her in the 30,000 flip-flops that had also been collected - the item we found most often on our cleanups and the shoe worn by millions every day!

We want to show there is another way to use plastic waste and to promote closed-loop waste management systems as a way of providing sustainable incomes and boosting economies worldwide! We work with local innovators and artists across East Africa and beyond to spread the message that single-use plastic doesn’t make sense!
Our objective has always been to share a very simple message:  single-use plastics don’t make sense.   

By using only locally available, low-tech solutions and traditional craftsmanship we know that our techniques can be copied without any barriers.

Now we’re turning our attention to something much bigger…

The monies raised from this fundraiser will be directed towards creating a first of its kind, state of the art recycling workshop in Lamu!

By kickstarting the recycling revolution in Lamu by June 2022 we will have;
- Prevented 60+ tonnes of plastic from reaching the ocean!
- Employed 15 people directly and developed income-generating activities for a further 50 - that’s 60+ families supported by this work!
- Put Lamu on the map for being the centre for plastic recycling outside of the big cities
- Initiated a closed-loop waste management system that protects tbhe environment and benefits communities.
- Begun making products and parts for the building of the Flipflopi Kubwa!

Hassan using traditional hand-drill on our 'plastic wood' planks

Why we must do something about plastics!

Plastic pollution is a global problem. Island nations and coastal countries are often victims of poor waste management and lax plastic legislation globally rather than it being a problem of their own making. Lamu is no exception.

Daily more plastics wash upon her shores. And this won’t stop until the global plastic tap gets shut off. Not only is plastic pollution an eyesore it is also suffocating our reefs and killing marine life.

8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans each year. If we continue at this rate, by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic than fish, ton for ton. According to the United Nations, 800 species worldwide are affected by marine plastic. 

Species can become entangled, suffocated or bloated and die from eating marine plastics. A 2016 study found that the reason why so many marine species eat plastic is that it actually smells like food. Marine plastics are a perfect material for algae to grow on, zooplankton to whales mistakenly smell out these marine plastics thinking they’re full of nutrients.

This compounded with the fact that much ocean debris looks like food leads to more and more plastic being eaten. This is why it’s not surprising when we find dead sperm whales with nearly 100kg of plastics in their guts.

Learn more about the harms of marine plastics on the blog: Marine Plastics The Facts 

We’re working to put an end to this pollution and we need your support to show that supporting locally managed closed-loop waste management systems is the key to getting us out of this mess!

Photos from before a beach clean up on Shela beach, Lamu 

What does a closed-loop waste management system look like?

By having a closed-loop waste management system products will be used, collected, reprocessed and recycled into a brand new product.

This can help to prevent 1000s of kilos of rubbish from ending up in the ocean, create sustainable employment and offer greater opportunities to local communities by offering skilled work with training and education ingrained in the process.

At our site, we will hire 15 people and create opportunities through the supply chain of a further 45 people. But we won’t only be offering employment. We want to inspire, train and create opportunities at our recycling hub. By doing this we can inspire more circular economies across Kenya, East Africa and the world to find creative ways to manage plastic waste.

Working especially with women we have a target of going beyond simply giving women income through picking up waste… We want to identify cottage industries where women can develop additional skills generate more income and have more autonomy to manage their funds as they see fit. 

By building the capacity of communities we can see lasting changes to behaviour that go above and beyond the actions of simple interventions. We want to create the plastic revolutionaries of the future. We want to have more people opposing plastic by becoming more aware of the work that goes into managing the waste. And we want to ban all unnecessary single-use plastics in East Africa and beyond!

One of the plastics sorters at the Lamu site.

Who benefits from this donation?

The people of Lamu will directly benefit from this donation, but really we all will. We believe that this is just the beginning. We want to prove that this concept works. That globally more and more closed-loop waste management systems can be supported for the benefit of all!

We all have a stake in saving the oceans from this plastic crisis. And you can do your part by supporting this project today!

Make no mistake,  the planet is on the edge of a global calamity - our project and colourful dhow made of recycled plastic may make you smile, but rest assured, we are deadly serious, and our mission is urgent.    

When we started the Flipflopi project in 2016, sustainable consumption of plastic was not a mainstream concern.  Today in 2021, the view is that it’s one of the defining environmental issues of our time. Our campaigning has played a small but important part in that - and without voices like ours - the urgent actions needed will not happen.  

Where do the funds go?

The management of the Flipflopi Project is run by volunteers. Our boatbuiulders, plastic sorters and collectors all earn a living wage. All donations are received by a charitable trust and regulated in the UK by the Charities Commission. In Kenya, 'The Flipflopi Project' is a registered foundation - and all our financial records are audited and available for external review. 

Follow Us!

Head to our website www.theflipflopi.com or any of our social media profiles @theflipflopi to keep up to date with our progress!
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The Flipflopi Project
Radha Shyam Trust
Registered nonprofit
Donations eligible for Gift Aid.

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