We should choose biodegradable flip flops, because most of the 3 billion pairs sold worldwide each year, are made from plastic. Which never biodegrades, or breaks down into millions of micro-plastic, ingested by marine wildlife. And it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a lot get lost, from people paddling in the sea, falling out of kayaks etc. You could be paddling at the shore, and suddenly ‘lose a flip flop’ if a wave suddenly takes it away. Beach clean-ups often find them the world over (one in the Seychelles collected 25 tons of trash, which included 50,000 pairs of flops).
There is one beach somewhere in the tropics, where the ocean naturally washes up rubbish from the west: when anyone wants a pair of flip-flops to a hoola hoop, they simply pop down to the coast and find them washed up on the shore, from thousands of miles away. One slum in Nairobi suffered a blocked water supply, from a build-up of flops, caused because this is one of the cheapest forms of footwear, so very popular worldwide.
- Firstly, don’t wear flops all the time. They are great for the beach or garden, but constant use (like sailors who wear trendy flops year round) are bad for your feet. Podiatrist Jackie Sutera says they are too flat to wear constantly, leading to your joints and bones having to compensate, leading to conditions like heel pain and flat feet. Walk barefoot when you can on the beach.
- Waves Flip Flops is a UK brand made from natural Fair Trade rubber, sourced from the foothills of Sri Lanka. This is a much better alternative material to plastic, and acts like a natural memory, moulding to your feet for better support. At end of use, they simply biodegrade. Although clothing made from recycled plastic is commendable (use a Guppyfriend to collect synthetic fibres, when washing to stop them going into the sea), for flops it’s better to simply go for biodegradable materials, because if a recycled plastic flop falls into the sea, it does as much harm.
- In the US, Splaff make flops for daily wear (rather than on the beach) from recycled tyres. This is a great material as it’s tough and easy-to-clean (also used to replace leather for handbags and wallets) and uses up abandoned tyres, which are fire hazards at landfill. The footbed is made from recycled rubber and foam, with straps made from hemp and recycled bicycle inner tubes.
Where to Recycled Plastic Flip Flops
So what do you do with existing flip flops? Sign up with your community (or ideally have a local shop get involved) and order a TerraCycle Flip Flop Recycling Box. The box is then sent off and the flops are made into new items.
These flops (made from hemp & old tyres) make a good idea to use up waste that would otherwise go to landfill. Also in larger sizes for men, these flops are comfortable and stylish. Tyres are not biodegradable (they have plastic as well as rubber), so choose natural rubber flops by the beach, then it won’t matter if you lose one with a wave, or it falls off your boat. All these treads are unisex, for any kind of feet, so choose your favourite design. Ethically made in Kenya by hand, so each pair is unique. Choose from red, navy, turquoise or green soles, with contrasting straps.
3 billion pairs of flops are sold worldwide, most are made from plastic, which causes harm when they end up in the sea. One beach clean-up in the Seychelles collected 25 tons of trash, which included 50,000 pairs of flops. One slum in Nairobi suffered a blocked water supply, from a build-up of flops, caused because this is one of the cheapest forms of footwear, so very popular worldwide. Communities can order a TerraCycle Flip Flop Recycling Box!
Don’t wear flops all the time. They are great for pottering around the house or garden, but constant use (like sailors who wear trendy flops year round) are bad for your feet. Podiatrist Jackie Sutera says they are too flat to wear constantly, leading to your joints and bones having to compensate, which can cause heel pain and flat feet. Walk barefoot when you can (not if you have diabetes).
About the Maker
Whalebags makes foldable reusable bags for all the family, made from GOTS-certified organic cotton. A portion of profits go to marine conservation projects.