David Attenborough's Blue Planet II is probably the most talked about environmental programme of the last year. Why? its message is monumental. Plastic is taking over our seas.
The statistics are shocking. Over a million seabirds die every year from plastic. Global plastic pollution in 2014 was 311 million tonnes – the same as more than 900 Empire State Buildings. Over 12 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year. Plastic has been found in the stomachs of 75% of deep-sea ﬁsh. Only 14% of all plastic produced is recycled. By 2050 the ratio of plastics to ﬁsh in the ocean will be 1:1. Most importantly: plastic doesn't biodegrade – so this problem isn't going anywhere fast.
It's simple: what goes in the ocean goes in you.
Kenya banned plastic bags in August 2017, making it one of the ﬁrst countries in the world to do so. But well before that, the innovative team of Flipﬂopi initiated their plastic dhow
project. The idea was to create a dhow made entirely of recycled plastic and to sail it from Kenya to South Africa:
The team is attempting two world ﬁrsts: this will be the ﬁrst time anyone has built a dhow from plastic waste, and the ﬁrst time anyone has sailed a dhow down the Indian Ocean coast
and around the Cape of Good Hope 5250km! It's hoped that the colourful dhow, covered in bright ﬂip-ﬂops, will draw attention to the massive amount of plastic
in our oceans.
Ben Morison, having spent ten years working on the Indian Ocean coastline, was appalled by the degradation he saw. When hecame up with the idea he contacted master boat builder Ali Skanda of Lamu – whose ﬁrst thought was that the project was madness. But when he woke the next morning he realised: anything is possible.
The name comes from the ﬂip-ﬂops found on beaches around the world – and in ﬁsh stomachs. But the idea is more profound: when a lot of people care about something
they ﬁnd a way to unite.
A team of 50 on a beach collected ﬁve tonnes of plastic in three hours.This was huge, but nothing compared to what the project needs: over 45 tonnes of plastic are required to make the dhow. The team estimates they'll remove about ﬁve million plastic bags and over 200,000 discarded ﬂip- ﬂops from the environment. A recycling factory in Malindi called Regeneration Africa, using a melting machine and small crushing machine, are making the keel, ribs and planks: the most dense parts of the dhow. The outside of the dhow
will be covered in colourful ﬂip-ﬂops.
This month, the world's ﬁrst dhow made entirely of rubbish is getting ready to set sail for the ﬁrst time.The ﬁrst sea trials will take place in two or three weeks. This crazy ideamight be just about to become real.