Flip flops, a staple of summer; simple, breezy, and inexpensive. But the flip side of the story is that each year tens of thousands, literally tons of indestructible flip flops, float through the ocean and wash up on beaches where they disrupt marine life.
An organization called UniquEco has ingeniously found a way to collect these discards and convert them into colorful works of art and marketable crafts and gifts. They have collected and transformed hundreds of thousands of flip flops that float into the Kenyan beaches from locations as far away as Indonesia and China.
Founders Julie Johnstone Church (a world expert on coral fish) and Tahreni Bwanaali (a role model in the Lamu area), were both born in Kenya and have created a foundation and a for-profit business based in Nairobi, Kenya, that employs 150 people to create goods that are sold worldwide. Their vision was to create more than a charity, to establish a self-sustaining business that can grow to employ more people over time with a special focus on women in remote areas who have little opportunity for economic advancement.
UniquEco has found a creative way to do good on many fronts: cleaning beaches and protecting the marine life (particularly turtles), employing women and men from impoverished areas and encouraging their creative expression. And they are raising awareness of how rubbish and discards can be reinvented in beautiful and useful ways.