The popular beach footwear known as flip flops is giving ruse to an ecological disaster and it has got the environmentalists worried because of the enormity of the problem. Flip flops have different names in different parts of the world and archaeologists have come across an ancient Egyptian pair that was made of leather and dates back to nearly 3,500 years ago. But, they all have one thing common - they are all enemies of ecology.

The effect of discarded flip flops

According to CNN, this type of footwear is cheap and affordable to more than three billion people. This has been revealed by Erin Smith of Ocean Sole, a conservation group that handles recycling of these items. The average lifespan of these flip flops are usually two years and the users extract the maximum benefit from them before discarding them unceremoniously. The users might get rid of them but they continue to remain and large quantities of them wash up on the shores.

On a rough estimate, nearly eight million tons of plastic enters the oceans every year and, it is expected that by the year 2050, there could be a strange sight of more plastic in the seas compared to fish with the ecological balance gone haywire.

The comparison is on weight basis.

The major source of debris that travels down to the Kenyan coasts originate in Asia, India and China and a portion of it drifts with the ocean current to land up in South America. The magnitude can be understood by the fact that the flip flops are produced on a large scale and when they wash up as litter on the shores and add to pollution. Fish die, turtles are not able to come up on to land to hatch their eggs and crabs get killed. In short, the ecology is disturbed and the ecosystem suffers damage as a result of this large-scale marine pollution.

Corrective action taken

In order to minimize the ill effects of plastic pollution, the Ocean Sole has come on the scene.

It has imparted training to artisans in a workshop in Nairobi to craft sculptures from these discarded items into a source of income. Ocean Sole team has seven hundred people working for it and can recycle nearly 800,000 flip flops a year. The resultant sculptures have a market that stretches from Mexico and Nepal.

German sportswear company Adidas has also turned its attention to this subject and is experimenting with renewable materials. One of its products that makes use of recycled ocean plastic has caught the fancy of the people.

The bottom line is that maintaining the balance of the ecology is a responsibility that cannot be wished away and the Plastic Pollution is something that must be controlled.