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The Plastic Revolution and a boat made of flipflops

Find out Ben's other passion outside of travel

Ben

Ben

Africa Specialist
Published on

07 Aug 2018

Read time

5 minutes

Flipflopi Project

Our Director Ben spends a lot of his life talking about travel, especially Laikipia in Kenya, his go-to travel destination. Yet it's not his only passion. He is also at the forefront of conservation, especially when it comes to plastic pollution, and the increasing effect it is having on the environment.

The Flipflopi Project

On his frequent visits to East Africa, Ben noticed a staggering increase in the amount of plastic being washed up along the coastline, and decided to do something about it. Together with some friends he started the FlipFlopi Project - an audacious attempt to build a sailing boat made entirely from plastic waste - to demonstrate that plastic can and should be recycled and re-used rather than just being treated as a single-use commodity.

The Start Of The Flip Flopi Project
The FlipFlopi Project begins

The Background

  • Plastic Building Materials: the traditional sailing boat is being built in Lamu, Kenya, made entirely from recycled plastic waste.
  • Flipflops: the boat is being covered by flipflops, as these are one of the most prolific items of marine waste littering the beaches of the Kenya coast. Hence the name!
  • Local Resources: the team has limited itself to exclusively using locally available resources. The project is proudly a Kenya based initiative with all the craftsmanship and know-how being driven locally.
  • The Journey: once the team have completed a boat big enough for a long journey, they intend to sail it all the way from Lamu in Kenya, to Cape Town in South Africa - the ultimate demonstration of the value and usefulness of what so many people see as 'rubbish or trash'.
  • The Objective: to show that single-use plastic doesn't make sense with an essential focus on taking this message to consumers in less developed parts of the world... including Africa of course.
The Flipflopi Project Plastic Waste In Kenya
Plastic waste collected in Kenya

Progress

The prototype - Flipflopi Dogo - has now been completed, and by so doing they've achieved something that has never been done before... A WORLD FIRST!!

The Flipflopi Dogo set sail on its first expedition from Lamu in January 2019. The crew successfully sailed 500km all the way to Zanzibar, raising awareness about marine plastic pollution along the way by visiting and engaging with schools, communities and government officials. The Flipflopi stopped at Watamu, Kilifi, Mombasa Diani and Shimoni, before crossing into northern Tanzania to Pemba Island, and finally finishing in Stone Town, Zanzibar, before returning to Mombasa.

The Flipflopi Dogo On Its Voyage
The Flipflopi Dogo on it's maiden voyage

As a result the project and its key messages have been receiving attention globally.... some of that is shown below. Ben also makes regular contributions to national and international press about solutions to plastic pollution.

In the Press

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Check out the videos on the BBC, and Sky News. And we can't forget the local press, here's a great article in our local Westmorland Gazette.

There's also a fantastic mention in The Times:

The Times Flipflopi Article
The Times interview with Ben

Hear about the Flipflopi first hand!

Ben also does speaking engagements about the project, including at the Royal Geographic Society in London, school audiences around the UK and Kenya, and at a number of corporate businesses. If you'd like to discuss a potential speaking engagement, get in touch with him at hello@farandwild.travel.

Upcoming talks in 2019:

"The Flipflopi expedition and the plastic revolution" (with the Royal Geographical Society)

  • When: Friday 4 October, 7.00 pm-8.00 pm
  • Where: The Box, Kendal College, Beezon Road, Kendal, LA9 6EL. Tickets: £8, RGS-IBG members £5 (tickets on the door)

More information here

To see a video made by the FlipFlopi team and find out more about the project, click here. Also check out their website and keep up to date on the Flipflopi progress.

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