And off we go!
Backed by UNEP Clean Seas Initiative, the Flipflopi sets sail on the first overseas expedition on 24th January, traveling 500kms from Lamu to Zanzibar to raise awareness about marine plastic pollution. The FlipFlopi will sail south along the coasts of Kenya stopping in Watamu, Kilifi, Mombasa, Diani and Shimoni holding events in partnership with local organisations and communties, before crossing into northern Tanzania with planned stops on Pemba Island, and onwards into Stone Town, Zanzibar to arrive for the International Busara Music Festival!
“The FlipFlopi is living proof that we can live differently. It is a reminder of the urgent need for us to rethink the way we manufacture, use and manage single-use plastic,” Joyce Msuya, UN Environment’s Acting Executive Director said. “Kenya has demonstrated tremendous leadership in addressing the epidemic of single-use plastic by banning plastic bags. We are clearly moving in the right direction but we need a drastic shift in consumption patterns and waste management practices across the world.”
The Flipflopi team will be visiting schools, communities and government officials along the way sharing solutions and changing mindsets. Remember, this was never really about the boat - we simply want to demonstrate that single use plastic doesn’t make sense. We hope people around the world are inspired to find their own ways to repurpose ‘already-used’ plastic.
Flipflopi board member Professor Judi Wakhungu, former Kenya Minister for Environment , commented; "The Flipflopi Project is playing a vital role in engaging the public at large in thinking about plastic differently, They have a colourful and innovative way of talking about the issue – and their message is really hitting home, reaching parts of the population that other initiatives seldom do.”
What’s happening after The Expedition?
(The Flipflopi to UN Environmental Assembly, March 2019)
Following the Expedition to Zanzibar in early 2019, The Flipflopi will be making a different expedition – this time on land, on the back of a lorry. That is because we have been invited to participate in the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi from the 11th to 15th March. At the invitation of UNEP, The Flipflopi will be transported on the back of a large articulated lorry inland from Mombasa to Nairobi – where she will form a centre exhibit for the conference.
UNEA will comprise Environment Ministers, high-ranking officials, and business leaders from around the world, and the focus of this gathering is "Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production".
“We are proud to have built the world’s first sailing boat made from recycled plastic,” said “The next challenge is to set sail and inspire people up and down Africa’s coastline and beyond to look at plastic waste not as trash but as a resource that can be collected and used.
This Project is a world first for a few reasons: no one has built a traditional sailing dhow, entirely from recycled plastics and covered in flipflops, and attempted to sail it down the ocean.
From East Africa, we are making the "old" relevant to the "new": We are using a traditional structure, symbolic across the Indian Ocean region and beyond for hundreds of years, as a mechanism to address a current and global problem, harnessing old techniques to pioneer a new technology (being the build of The Flipflopi) and successfully engage an audience far beyond its roots.
We are aspiring to a world without single-use plastic. Whilst we have built a recycled boat, we are not advocating recycling as the sole solution – what we are saying is that, notwithstanding our aspiration, we must make use of the plastic we have in a smarter fashion - ie, we can’t just continue to dump it in landfill/the ocean once we’ve had our turn with it. Let’s reuse, repurpose, recycle – let’s think circular economy…
The Flipflopi team