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Business

Recycled flip-flops build a business

Jackson Mbatha, 40, uses a knife to carve

Jackson Mbatha, 40, uses a knife to carve part of the neck of a large giraffe he is making from pieces of discarded flip-flops that have been recycled into sculpture materials at the company, Ocean Sole, in Nairobi, Kenya. (April 29, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

NAIROBI, Kenya -- The colorful handmade giraffes, elephants and warthogs made in a Nairobi workshop were once only dirty pieces of rubber floating on the Indian Ocean's currents.

Kenya's Ocean Sole sandal recycling company is cleaning the East African country's beaches of used, washed-up flip-flops.

Workers in Nairobi make about 100 different products from the discarded flip-flops. In 2008 the company shipped an 18-foot giraffe to Rome for display during a fashion week.

Company founder Julie Church says the goal of her company is to create products that people want to buy, then make them interested in the backstory.

Workers wash the flip-flops, many of which have been repaired several times. Artisans then glue together the various colors, carve the products, sand and rewash them.

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