Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One Man's Garbage

After reading about the African trade beads I have been working with, my sister wrote to tell me about a necklace she has that is made from flip-flops. Sounds kind of icky on the surface, but considering these flip-flops have traveled the Pacific ocean, they have probably been washed clean of foot dirt.

Every year, thousands of flip-flops wash ashore along the coast of Kenya, coming from as far away as Japan, although I don't know how you can tell the origin of the things for sure. They junk up the beaches and kill the marine life that tries to eat them. And now they provide jobs for people who would otherwise subsist on fishing.

A group called UniquEco works with locals to gather the sandals and recycle them into things like toys, sculptures, and jewelry. The 120 people involved in the program now earn more than they normally would and can move beyond just surviving.


My sister's necklace (ab0ve) was made by a single mother who had no options or skills to support herself or her children. To avoid prostitution or worse, she began making jewelry from scavenged flip-flops and earns enough to feed and house her family. She uses heat to turn the old rubber into refined one-of-a-kind beads.

Flip-flops. Who would have guessed? I can't stand the things, but at least someone is finding a use for them.

UniquEc0's wedsite is still under construction. In the mean time, they are operating from a Flickr site here. Go buy something.

6 comments:

dive said...

It's great that they can make a living from our crap, Robyn; it is s shame that they need to, though.

We recycle crap shoes, too. All the used trainers and running shoes that would otherwise go into landfill get chewed up with car tyres and go to make the stuff we use on our school playgrounds (Playtop). It's great! You can bounce little kids off it and they come up smiling.

MmeBenaut said...

That's amazing Robyn but perfectly understandable. There are people all over the world who make things from recycled goods. I love recycling because I'm a "waste not, want not" kind of girl.

Shazza said...

Very cool! I shall pass this along!

Rich said...

Thanks for the link, Robyn.
I just bought a pair of flip-flops made from...used flip-flops.

Alifan said...

Robyn you always find such interesting things.....it sounds amazing and they look so good,and all from old flip flops......

Mrs. G. said...

These are just plain cool!