Cool New Recycled Flip-Flops Tap Age-Old Technique
© Fresh Cargo. Maasai Treads team members with one of their products.
Looking for a new pair of flip-flops for summer? Fresh Cargo's latest fair-trade line, "Maasai Treads," combines locally sourced and recycled materials with indigenous sandal-making skills to create footwear that makes a stylish, sustainable statement.
The U.K.-based company works with members of the Maasai community in Nairobi, Kenya, where men have been making sandals from cow hide, called "akala," for centuries. More recently, they have begun using recycled tire treads as their main material.
Made From 95 Percent Recycled Materials
The Fresh Cargo designs are 95 percent recycled, made from locally sourced tires, used denim and leather products from the local Nairobi market, hemp, and a locally produced cotton called kikoy. The mix of materials allows for flip-flop styles for both women and men that range from funky to sleek.
© Fresh Cargo. Assembling the strap (left) and the Kikoy Buttons Blue Flip Flops for women (right).
Twenty local people are currently employed making the Maasai Treads line and the company hopes to have created 100 jobs in Kenya, where unemployment stands at 40 percent, by the end of 2014. Proceeds also help support the Born Free Foundation, a wildlife protection charity that works on anti-poaching outreach and human-lion conflict mitigation projects in Kenya.
Fresh Cargo claims their recycled tire soles can last for 20,000 miles before becoming fully worn out. Maasai warriors have already proven the technique's road-worthiness by running the London and New York marathons in recycled-tire flip-flops to raise money for their community.
The company also works with other teams in Kenya to make wire jewelry and recycled-paper jewelry, a group in the Philippines that recycles old juice cartons into bags, and one in Indonesia that makes recycled-paper homewares.