How a Boat Made from Flip-Flops is Helping to Save the Ocean
By: Linda Ravin Lodding and Dipesh Pabari
Illustrated by: Michael Machira Mwangi
Published: March 14, 2023
Publisher: Beaming Books
Earth Day is tomorrow and many of us are thinking about ways we can help keep our planet beautiful. One way is to stop using single-use plastics. This story is based on the true story of the boat, Flipflopi, an actual boat made from flip-flops and other plastic items that had washed ashore on a beach in Kenya. The story of Juma and his Babu (grandfather) walking to the beach and noticing numerous flip-flops that had washed ashore is told in this picture book with realistic illustrations along with a plea to do everything we can to keep plastic out of our oceans.
During a walk to the beach, while Juma is kicking a plastic water bottle, Juma notices what he thinks is different colored fish that have washed ashore. But, they are flip-flops and other various plastic items. As he begins to pick them up, he notices this is a job much bigger than what he can manage. Day after day, he and other friends return to the beach to find more plastic that has washed ashore. As the piles of plastic get bigger, Babu and Juma have an idea, to build a boat made from the melted plastic they have collected. Juma isn’t sure this will work, but as they sketch out a plan, Juma knows they will need more plastic. Unfortunately, they won’t have any trouble getting more plastic. The whole community rallies around to help gather the plastic and soon there is enough to melt down and construct the boat.
In September 2018, the real Flipflopi set sail from Kenya. Approximately 10 tons of plastic waste collected from the Kenyan shore was melted down and shaped and carved by the team. Over 30,000 flip-flops were used in the making of the boat. Since more plastic is being washed ashore, more boats are planned, including one that sails around the world to teach about plastic pollution.
The book includes a graphic about how the boat was made, actual photos of the boat and pollution in Kenya, and a page of ideas about how you can help including stopping the use of single-use plastic. If you’d like more information about this project visit their website, HERE.
This inspiring story will encourage your child to be more observant of their own plastic use and how to help your family reduce their contribution to the problem of pollution.
Linda Ravin Lodding is an award-winning author of eight picture books, including Painting Pepette. When she’s not writing, Linda is head of communications for a children’s rights organization that focuses on a child’s right to a healthy environment. Originally from New York, she now lives in Sweden.
Dipesh Pabari is an eco-leader, educator, waste plastic innovator, and one of the founders of the Flipflopi Expedition. He lives in Kenya.
Michael Machira Mwangi is a self-taught digital artist. He lives in Kenya.