Grant #524

Microplastic Contamination Units

February 27, 2023

Ocean Sole Turns Flip Flops into Artwork and Wants to Minimize Waste in the Process

The amount of plastic that humans have produced is so massive that it’s hard to describe. One recent estimate characterized it as weighing more than all land and marine animals on earth combined. That plastic—that colossal amount of plastic—doesn’t just remain in kitchen cabinets and garbage dumps. It seeps out. In 2020, almost 16 million tons of microplastics were found to be hiding beneath the surface of the ocean. Microplastics have also been detected in shellfish, drinking water, and rain. 

What are we going to do with all that plastic? It’s a serious, depressing problem, but at least one group is having some fun and creating something beautiful in an attempt to deal with it. Ocean Sole, based in Nairobi, collects flip flops left on beaches and near rivers and repurposes the waste as colorful artwork. It has removed over 10 million abandoned sandals from the environment. 

Sounds awesome, right? We think so too! But the team over at Ocean Sole is determined to create as little additional waste as possible and so it’s looking for a solution to the dust generated in the process of carving its flip flop sculptures. Our grant will help them construct dust contamination units, allowing the social enterprise to protect the artisans and collect the leftover plastic and make sure it doesn’t end up back on the beach.

Category: Art, Education, Environment, Nature



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders