AN AFRICAN REVOLUTION AGAINST PLASTIC.
THE FLIFLOPI'S PROWESS: EXPOSED BY REBECCA FABER, COMMUNICATION OFFICER OF THE WORLD FIRST EVER SAILING BOAT MADE FROM 100% WASTE PLASTIC.
The rest of the interview with Rebecca Faber, Flipflopi's communications officer. Our guest presents us with an intimate and committed look at this African project supported by UN Environment and the Clean Seas program. The initiative was at the heart of the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly from 11 to 15 March 2019.
What are Flipflopi's operational ambitions for the rest of the continent?
RF – Right now we are planning an expedition to Lake Victoria in to order to expand the plastic message. Countries around Lake Victoria such as Tanzania, Uganda, are included in our operational ambitions. After that, we are planning to go down in countries like Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. Of course, West Africa is a place where we would love to plan an expedition in the future.
What have been your most important mandates since joining the Flipflopi team?
RF - There are many important mandates, since communication is so critical to the campaign and to spread the #plasticrevolution message. Most important mandate is to ensure everyone understands the mission and ambitions of flipflopi – she is a positive African solution to this global plastic crisis.
Being involved in the project, do you live a precious dream in particular?
RF – My personal dream is that flipflopi is able to drive real change in these critical years and that through our campaign, east and southern African governments take the issue more seriously and commit to making more national and regional bans like the ones we are seeing in Kenya.
Can you tell us more about Flipflopi KUBWA?
RF – Kubwa means “The Big one” in swahili. The flipflopi project has always been about finding creative ways to engage people with the issue of single use plastic. To bring about global change - we have to take the message further around the world. So we are planning to build a big boat that can cross the oceans, and sail long distance from Kenya to south Africa. It will be very challenging!
We are at the early stages of planning but Kubwa will be the biggest symbol for the end of single use plastic in the world.
The boat fascinates, attracts attention, encourages action and invites communities to rethink their management of plastic waste. Beyond the social impact, can you tell us about its technical characteristics?
RF – Flipflopi is the first ever sailing boat made from 100% waste plastic. She is a 10 metre traditional sailing dhow weighing 20 tonnes. The keel, ribs and structural elements are all made from recycled plastic including bottles and bags, whilst the hull and decking is covered completely by over 30,000 re-purposed flip-flops. Despite the unusual materials, the vessel was constructed by local craftsmen using traditional methods.
The boat took 2 years to make as we tried many different types of plastic before we found the right material that was strong enough. It took just 3 hours to collect 5 tonnes of plastic. In total we needed 20 tonnes of plastic to make the boat. That was sorted shredded and put into bags. Once the plastic was collected, it was sorted and we created moulds for the big parts. Waste plastic was compressed into the moulds to create the large parts. Planks were made from extrusion process. It was built by Ali Skanda in Lamu using traditional dhow building methods, and then we worked with local Kenyan artist to make the flipflop outer cover.
For more information about The Flipflopi project visit : www.theflipflopi.com