This recycled sailboat aims to start a plastic revolution with support from Droga5

The Flipflopi will set sail on Saturday from Kenya to Tanzania.

The Flipflopi is made entirely from recycled plastic and flip-flops
The Flipflopi is made entirely from recycled plastic and flip-flops

The first sailboat made entirely from recycled plastic is setting sail into the Indian Ocean on Saturday (15 September) as part of a campaign to end the use of single-use plastic.

The Flipflopi, a Kenyan community-built boat constructed from recycled marine plastic and flip-flops, is supported by a short film created by Droga5 London and Borderland. The project calls for a plastic revolution and raises awareness of the dangers of single-use plastic, of which 12 million tonnes is dumped at sea every year rather than repurposed or recycled.

The six-minute film documents the Flipflopi’s journey, starting with Kenya’s drastic plastics ban in 2017. The country imposed stiff fines and up to four years’ imprisonment for anyone producing, selling or even carrying a plastic bag, and now other African countries including Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi are considering following suit.

Lamu-based boat builder Ali Skanda developed pioneering techniques to build the Flipflopi. He and his team used only locally available technology and materials, collecting more than 10 tonnes of plastic waste to craft a nine-metre sailing dhow (or ship) exactly as builders would when working with wood. 

The Flipflopi will embark on a 500km expedition from Lamu in Kenya to Zanzibar in Tanzania, visiting schools, communities and government officials along the way to educate them about their plastic mission. 

The film was written by Andy Shrubsole, art directed by Scott Taylor and directed by Simon & Ben through Borderland.

Ben Morison, founder of the Flipflopi Project, said: "The Flipflopi Project has always been about encouraging change in a positive way, making people smile first and then sharing the very simple message that single-use plastics really don’t make sense. 

"We hope people around the globe are inspired by our beautiful multi-coloured boat and find their own innovative ways to repurpose ‘already-used’ plastics." 

David Kolbusz, chief creative officer at Droga5 London, added: "Making this film has been such a special project to work on and we’re proud to be involved with Flipflopi and everything they stand for. The creativity and innovation behind the boat and the incredible craftsmanship of Ali Skanda is nothing short of inspirational."