Flip Flop Fun for conservation

The Virginia Zoo has partnered with Ocean Sole, TheFlipflop Recycling Company, to conserve marine life and support sustainable community development. Ocean Sole collects discarded flip flops that were previously blighting waterways and coastlines in Kenya, and artisans from local communities transform the collected waste into colorful flip flop creations. The foamy footwear is collected and scrubbed, then carved, sanded and sculpted into colorful patchwork animals.

The Virginia Zoo is the first zoo in the country to sell the art. The Zoo has ordered several sizes of elephants, giraffes, warthogs, rhinos, lions, hippos and zebras, which are available in the Zoo Gift Shop. There are also other unique pieces such as door stops and bracelets in the Zoo’s flip flop collection.


Ocean Sole, The Flipflop Recycling Company, is an African solution to a global problem. Thousands of discarded flip flops wash up on the world’s shorelines creating an ecological disaster for the marine eco-system. Not only spoiling the natural beauty of our beaches and oceans, the plastic waste is swallowed by animals, slowly and painfully suffocating them. The project started with two Kenyan women, Julie Church and Tahreni Bwanaali, encouraging local women to collect discarded flip flops off beaches and recycle them into fun, colorful merchandise.

Today, Ocean Sole is a robust social enterprise, driving community development and helping to restore the marine ecosystem. Ocean Sole currently works with communities across Kenya and East Africa, educating them to see the worth in collecting discarded flip flops and recreating them into unique sculptures, home ware, accessories and souvenirs. All of Ocean Sole’s products have been handmade from recycled flip flops by talented local artisans whilst earning a sustainable income and improving their quality of life and that of their families.

To learn more about Ocean Sole, visit: www.ocean-sole.com