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An artisan cuts the mane of a toy lion.
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Ben Curtis / AP Photo
Flip-flop Art
A company in Africa turns trash into treasure

By Brian Fitzgerald | for Scholastic News

A lot of people wear flip-flops only at the beach in the summer. But in coastal areas of Kenya, the colorful sandals are the footwear of choice year-round. Unfortunately, old flip-flops often end up in waterways and littering the coastline. The waste threatens the lives of many ocean animals.

When marine biologist Julie Church spotted kids in Kenya making toys from discarded flip-flops, she got an idea. In 2005, Church started Ocean Sole, a company that turns the trash into colorful works of art.

The company employs local artisans from Kenya and other East African countries. They create brightly colored toys, sculptures, and jewelry in the shape of animals.

In 2013, Ocean Sole collected more than 45,000 pounds of flip-flops from beaches. The objects made from the recycled footwear are sold online and in gift shops around the world.

This article originally appeared in the April 14, 2014 issue of Scholastic News magazine. To find out more about Scholastic News's great resources, click here.