#Conservation: Flipiflopi sets sail again

(Posted 24th March 2022)

We’re delighted to share that in February, our MD Ali and founder Ben headed back to Lamu to lead the beautiful, multicoloured Flipflopi on its third expedition.

The Flipflopi is the world’s first boat made 100% from recycled plastic waste, which was collected from the beaches of Kenya and then coated in flip-flops, giving it its colourful exterior. 

Its expeditions have led to nationwide plastic bag bans in multiple African countries, and this latest expedition focused on mapping plastic waste in the Lamu Archipelago and on promoting innovative local waste management solutions that could benefit the local communities.

Ali shares his experience of joining the Flipflopi:‘I always cringe when people talk about “once-in-a-lifetime experiences”, yet this was exactly what this was as I was invited to join the Flipflopi boat heading into the Lamu Archipelago off the north Kenya coast.‘This was partly for the remote and otherwise never-would-have-visited (or even known about) communities in this very much off-the-radar part of Kenya, but mostly through seeing and being involved first-hand in the work that this project does with the local communities – how they are trying to raise awareness within these societies; how they are researching the levels of ocean plastic pollution (both micro and macro) within the archipelago and its precious mangroves; and how they are striving to rid the area of what is a huge amount of plastic detritus.

‘Yes, the Flipflopi have built a fantastic colourful, recycled boat, but this is just the tip of what is happening and how involved the project is within Lamu, its community and the municipal elders of the surrounding areas, all of whom are buying into this anti-plastic project.

‘Whereas before, ocean plastic in and around Lamu was just fact, there is now real hope that the community can be part of minimising the amount of plastic that goes into the sea, instead ensuring that it is being properly recycled.

‘The last communication I had from the team was that the project had just bought 12,500kg of plastic from the local communities – this will be shredded and recycled to help build the next larger boat … onwards they sail!’

Images in order: 
The FLipflopi Lamu Expedition Team,
The beautiful (clean) Kiwayu Beach,
Post Beach Clean up in Kiwayu,
Spreading the word on plastics,
Ali and Abdul of The Flipflopi.

What next for the Flipflopi?

As a result of the expedition, the Flipflopi is now going big and bold on setting up what will be the first-of-its-kind waste material recovery centre and closed-loop waste management system in this remote part of East Africa. The Flipflopi has now received its NEMA operating licence for its plastic-recycling workshop in Lamu and continues to work closely with national and county governments on a holistic approach to tackling plastic pollution. This is a key step in moving towards a world where we reduce our waste while bringing jobs and value to communities.

Lamu: Kenya’s Hottest Beach Spot

Popular with everyone from Sienna Miller to the Obamas, Lamu has become Kenya’s best-loved beach retreat by those in the know – and it is easy to see why.Separated from the mainland by a narrow channel bordered with dense mangrove forest and protected from the Indian Ocean by large sand dunes and thriving coral reefs, the Lamu Archipelago of islands offers a peaceful haven where cars don’t exist, donkeys pepper the town and there are endless, long, sandy stretches of beach to relax on as a procession of dhows – ancient sailing boats powered by a single sail – drift on by.

But Lamu offers more than a peaceful spot to unwind – it is Kenya’s oldest living settlement and historically it was important as a stop on ancient trading routes, full of Arab, Chinese and Portuguese influences which give its narrow, winding streets a rich heritage.

Peponi, located directly on the beach, is famed for its relaxed and social vibe, with each room individually decorated and its bar the place to have a pre-dinner drink and chat.

Peponi Hotel

Across the water on Manda Island are beautiful palm-thatched cottages and open living spaces, ideal for those who want to kick off their shoes and relax at Manda Bay.

Manda Bay

Why Lamu is the hottest beach destinationVisit the Flipflopi in LamuNicola Benbow, a Far and Wild customer went to see the Flipflopi for herself….

‘With a group of good friends from the UK, we visited the Flipflopi dhow project in Lamu last month. We were shown around by the ebullient project manager Mick Warwick, an inexhaustible ex-soldier who had led the expedition of the first dhow to Lake Victoria, and the handsome Ali Skanda, the boat-builder.  

‘We were introduced to the new Visitor Centre, made of gloriously jewel-coloured recycled bottles, and shown the appallingly large mountains of waste plastic from which it had been created. 

‘Their latest project is to build a new, much bigger dhow and they showed us the initial construction of the 23-metre, 60-tonne sailing boat, which will hopefully accelerate change, and the brand new extruder machine with its technology to make it possible. ‘Lamu town is an absolute must for the Far and Wild traveller. I had to pinch myself that I was not in Oman, so different it is in style and atmosphere from Africa – the slender, handsome people, the windows and beautifully-carved doors with exotic brass decorations, the spice markets, the free-roaming donkeys, the smells and the fact that everything – everything! – closes at midday. Go there, but first visit the Flipflopi project. You will not be disappointed!’

Nicola Benbow, a Far and Wild customer.

How to get involved

Get daily updates by the Flipflopi on Instagram or Facebook and share their content.

Reduce, reuse and recycle plastic – take responsibility for your own personal plastic use!Speak up – don’t be afraid to give feedback to businesses to encourage them to reduce their plastic usage – this could be on the packaging for instance.Sign Flipflopi’s petition to end single-use plastic in East Africa

Get Involved
Click below to follow the Flipflopi Journey!

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