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Used flip-flops get new life in Africa

These toy animals were made from old flip-flops that washed up on the beaches of Kenya. (Ben Curtis/AP)

Colorful giraffes, elephants and warthogs made in an African workshop were once dirty pieces of rubber floating in the Indian Ocean.

Kenya’s Ocean Sole sandal recycling company is cleaning the East African country’s beaches of used, washed-up flip-flops. About 45 workers in Nairobi make 100 products, including toys and key chains, from the sandals.

Julie Church, who founded Ocean Sole, noticed local children turning flip-flops into toy boats around 1999, when she worked as a marine scientist in Kenya.

She also saw that baby turtles that had hatched on the beach had to fight their way through the debris to get to the ocean. A plan to clean up the debris and create artistic items was born.

The company aims to sell most of its products outside Kenya. Its biggest purchasers are zoos and aquariums.

— Associated Press

Coming Sunday: Read about an Alexandria man who creates art out of trash.

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