Summer is finally here, and you know what that means…Flip flops. This Friday, June 15, is National Flip Flop Day. But did you know the ever popular and inexpensive summer footwear can be problematic for the environment?
Why are flip flops so bad?
There are more than 150 million pairs of flip-flops being produced each year. And all those flips flops are made of plastic. A vast majority of these flip flops are cheap and not made to last, meaning they end up in the trash. And with lots of plastic waste, many end up in our oceans and waterways. In 2006, a research team found approximately 11,000 flip flops in the Indian Ocean, most of which were made of plastic foam containing toxic chemicals which leech into the water and subsequently marine life.
Let’s discover a few responsible ways to dispose of old flip flops, and a few eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional flip flop!
Flip Flop Recycling
First, it is important to remember that recycling is a SHORT-TERM solution. The LONG-TERM solution is to make/buy/wear flip flops made of sustainable materials.
A team of artisans in Nairobi use upcycled flip flops to create beautiful and colorful scultures.
Terra Cycle offers boxes to recycle lots of hard to recycle items. One of these is for flip flops. You can often find Terra Cycle boxes at your local Whole Foods, or your community can get together to order some Terra Cycle boxes for community use. www.terracycle.com
Recycle Nation is an amazing resource. On this website, you can find the closest recycling sites near you for almost any type of recyclable items, from metal to wood, to batteries and even flip flops.
Eco-Friendly Flip Flops
While usually more expensive, well made flip flops last longer, and therefore require throwing away and replacing less often. If you wear flip flops a lot and can afford it, it is worth it to make it an investment.
Most importantly, do your research when buying something new. After all, that's what Conscious Consumerism is all about! Make sure you know who makes the product, what materials are used and where those materials come from, as well as what the company's environmental reputation is. Below is just a partial list of some companies that make flip flops with the environment in mind!
Recycled & Eco-Friendly Flip Flops
Parley, an ocean protection organization teamed up with Adidas to create shoes out of recycled plastic waste removed from the oceans.
Indosole, a certified B corp, creates flip flops using recycled tires (another hard to recycle material).
Gumbies creates flip flops out of recycled rubber and all natural jute.
Patagonia, well known for their eco-friendly practices, makes high quality recycled flip flops.
You can buy hemp flip flops from Rainbow Sandals.
Chacos makes durable flip flops made from recycled rubber.
Planet Flops and Subs make eco-friendly fiip flops.
Sanuk makes flip flops using recycled yoga mats.
Landfill Dzine, a husband and wife team, creates one of kind flip flops using all kinds of recycled and upcycled materials.
What’s your favorite eco-friendly summer footwear?