Launch of the Build Phase of the Flipflopi Project
On the 28th of January 2017 at the beach of Lamu, we launched the building phase of the FlipFlopi Project. The world’s first Dhow made entirely from "already used" plastic waste that we’ve collected from the beaches and towns of Kenya.
Surrounded by friends and supporters from Lamu, Malindi and Nairobi, as well as local press we were happy to be able to show off the first parts of our pioneering boat.
Guests were welcomed by Ali Skanda, head of the build, in Swahili and then English. Ali gave an introduction to the project, as well as some background to the issue of plastic waste in Lamu.
After Ali’s speech, he invited Sam Ngaruiya, of Regeneration Africa in Malindi who explained the process by which his team transformed plastic bought from street collectors along the Kenya coast, into the strong structure parts of the boat that were on display.
Finally, project leader Ben Morison, spoke briefly about the WHY??
Why the boat was being covered in colourful recycled flip-flops? (A: because they are among the most common items found littering beaches and towns in Kenya – and also because they are a perfect platform for positive communication about single-use plastics in our lives today). And why do all this in the first place? (A: the build and the expedition are creating a platform to raise awareness and create changes in how single-use plastics are used globally - starting with Kenya.)
After that, there were 3 main things for people to see.
FIRSTLY; underneath a shaded gazebo, we presented some background information about the project…
…and we also launched our #bottletopbingo initiative with a display of plastic bottletops found in Lamu.
SECONDLY – we had a display table with lots of different pieces of recycled plastic.
THIRDLY, we invited our guests to have walk around, or step aboard, two enormous (& beautiful) wooden dhows being serviced on the beach – the Tunda and Salsibila.
FINALLY, the last act of the launch day as a bit of theatre:
....the symbolic raising of the Muli (the bow – or front - of the boat). At 5 metres high, and weighing close to a tonne, it is one impressive piece of plastic.
Firstly it was manually moved into position by Ali and his team (Hassan, Ahmed, Fundi Bakari, Rashidi and Kassim). Then, once in position, the Muli was hooked to a chainblock (a manually operated lifting device) and slowly lifted into the upright position... to the sound of much applause, high fives and handshakes all round!
All in all, the event was a super success. Thanks must go to Ali Skanda & his team for their hospitality on the day, to Camilla Turner for filming, and to Katharina Elleke who helped organise the exhibits and take photos during the event. And most importantly of all, to everyone who attended.. thank you for your interest, energy and enthusiasm for what we are doing.