Thursday, September 13, 2007

UniquEco - the (Flipflop) Recycling Co

Jambo All,

During my last trip to Nairobi, I stopped by Marula Studios to visit with Julie Church, the woman behind UniquEco. This is her story - and her picture. Behind us are a ton of used flip flops, which I am told is nothing compared to what's still out there.

A marine conservationist by training and a woman who is passionate about the oceans, she started a project while working at the WWF to turn flip flops that washed up on the Kenyan coastline into key chains. After a large key chain order from WWF Switzerland, helped her realize the idea of making things from flip flops using more sophisticated means was possible, Julie and her business partner, Tahreni, set up UniquEco as a business to establish a sustainable solution to both waste and livelihood issues.

UniquEco works with villages adjacent to Kiunga Marine National Reserve, where Julie worked for 6 years with WWF. The villages include Kiwayu, Ndau, Mkokoni, Kiunga and Chandani. They have also stared collecting used flip flops from the slums in Nairobi.

Julie believes that the world's waste is everyone's problem and Africa can provide the solution. The flip-flop is the most basic footwear for so many in the world, yet every day hundreds of these brightly coloured, non-degradable pieces of rubber wash up on beaches around the globe, blighting the coastlines and the lives of local coastal people and the marine and coastal ecology.

The flip-flop initiative is a remarkable solution to this man-made problem. The local women and children have been encouraged to collect the washed up rubbish that arrives from as far a field as Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. The villagers turn this waste into saleable products such as key rings, belts, earrings and bags using human creativity. This provides a sustainable livelihood to those in need.

UniquEco's motto: improving lives and the world with recycled products, is about brightening life with colourful and exciting items made from waste and providing opportunities to marginalized peoples.

This is another example of what a person with some passion and commitment can do to make a positive difference in the world. Now if that doesn't make you want to go online and buy yourself (or someone you love) a flip flop necklace, well then - buy something else!

The website is developing so the best way for you to make a purchase is to send an email to work out the details. UniquEco

As with Boomu, please leave any comments here so Julie can see them and if you order an item because you learned about UniquEco here... be a pal and let them know.

Miss K


Anonymous said...

Miss K,

I am researching this company to consider selling these wonderful creations here in the SW USA.

Could you please contact me so I may better know the potential of such an adventure?

Thank you and Keep the Faith, charles

ps. your quote of Ms. Mead is so on for the times we are in!

Anonymous said...

I have been enchanted by this project since I first saw the award winning film by Etienne Oliff and Lucy Bateman, "Flip Flotsam". Blessings from the universe on all who continue this amazing work!