A nine metre dhow made of recycled plastic is sailing across the Indian Ocean from the Kenyan island of Lamu to Zanzibar, to highlight the need to recycle and reuse plastics. The multi-coloured boat, dubbed the Flip Flopi, is made up of plastics bottles and plastic sandals collected from the ocean over several months.

Every year, at least eight metric tonnes of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans. Out of this waste are plastic bags that strangle turtles, suffocate sea birds and fills the stomachs of other sea animals according to UNEP. After watching the effects of plastic on marine life and their livelihoods, fishermen in the historic Lamu island in Kenya decided to take action.

Dipesh Pabari, Co-founder of Flip Flopi says that the single use of plastic does not make sense.

“The single use plastic does not make sense. If you can build a dhow that is ten metres long and sail across the Indian Ocean and it is sea worthy, it says a lot of these materials. Is it sensible to be using it once and throwing it in the bin and forgetting about it?”

Kenya has the world’s toughest law against plastic bags; offenders risk up to four years in jail or a fine of up to $40 000. While the ban may have partly paid off, plastic bottles, straws still choke the rivers and oceans.

Joyce Musya, Acting Executive Director UNEP, says that ending pollution is central to reducing poverty.

“Sub-Saharan Africa generates 170m tonnes of waste annually 12% of which is plastics, sending and ending plastic pollution is central to reducing poverty.”

Anita Muqwalana, SA High Commissioner, says that they acknowledge countries on board in reducing pollution.

“Kenya the single use plastic is not assisting us, and we acknowledge countries on board.”

For its first leg, Flip Flopi will dock in Zanzibar but the builders of the boat hope to one day reach Cape Town, in a bid to spread the gospel of recycling.