Saving Soles

How Ocean Sole Saves the Oceans Through Ingenuity

By Spencer Backman, Global News Editor

Social Enterprise Ocean Sole recently displayed some of their recycled sculptures at Lynn, filling the library with colorful displays.

Founded in 1999 by Julie Church, Ocean Sole takes discarded flip-flops that float to the beaches of Kenya and turns them into traditional Kenyan sculptures. The sculptors are hardworking Kenyans practicing an ancient and orthodox art form while earning a living wage. The flip-flops used for the hand-crafted sculptures are usually found during beach cleanups, and then taken to Ocean Sole to be recycled.

The environmental impact of collecting and recycling flip-flops is hardly all they do. Ocean Sole helps to lift its employees out of poverty by providing good-paying jobs to traditional Kenyan wood sculptors. The people who collect and process the flip-flops and the team of employees who manage and package their artwork for shipment abroad and annually, donates over 10 percent of its revenue to beach cleanups.

The direct clean-up efforts themselves are not insignificant. In 2021, Ocean Sole collected over one million pounds of trash. In addition, they saved over 240 trees and employed over 90 people, providing good-paying jobs to employees facing high unemployment in Kenya.

Ocean Sole has also been asked to set up in other countries around the world to amplify their impact and create a new industry in developing economies.

In addition to selling their unique sculptures online at their website, they sell their work in a shop outside Jacksonville, Florida. They have partnered with Lynn to feature their artists’ work at the annual Lynn Fashion Showcase on Feb. 23, 2023.

Above: A recycled elephant sculpture sits on the railing on the libraries second floor. Photo/L. Guillen.
Above: Ocean Sole displays its sculptures at the Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn library. Photo/L. Guillen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.