Once complete Flipflopi will set off on a 5000km expedition around the cape of good hope, effectively becoming the first dhow to undertake such a voyage.
Through an ingenious idea to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the Ocean, a Kenyan team is constructing the world’s first boat made entirely from plastic waste and once complete set on a 5000km expedition from Lamu to Cape Town, effectively achieving two world firsts.
Flipflopi Project joint leader Dipesh Pabari, told Business Insider SSA the project is on its final stages.
“We are nearing completion of the seven meter prototype which is the boat we have been building to test the engineering and the technicalities of our main project which is 60ft 20m we are hoping to put the seven meters prototype on the water in December or January latest” he said.
For the past 12 months, the Kenyan team made entirely of local and international conservationist volunteers has researched and developed the technology and knowhow and turned over 45 tonnes of trash into a high version of a traditional 60ft sailing dhow.
“We are a group of volunteers entirely and we are doing this to create a movement to raise awareness about the global problem of single use plastics and to look for positive and alternative solutions to deal with plastic pollution”
Initially a preserve of the developed countries with Vietnam, Thailand, China, the Philippines & Malaysia leading as the world’s top ocean plastics emitters, slowly and surely the problem has also shifted to African coastlines.
The UN estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish unless drastic action is urgently taken.
“The tradition of dhow making is very strong in Lamu and dates back hundreds of years, Lamu is also a symbol of trade and inter-cultural connections that has been going back to thousands of years and that in itself tells a wonderful story of connecting people worldwide."plastic has a problem is also something that is not localised but a huge global problem that is becoming increasingly problematic because of the oceans and those connections, you know plastics that is being washed up on our shores is coming from as far as Indonesia, China and Malaysia"
The DNA of the Flipflopi Project is African. African waste, African boat building craft, a journey down the African coast engaging with African people on African issues.
“It is not just a problem of big pieces of plastics anymore it is micro plastics , when you walk down the beaches of Lamu or anywhere along the Kenyan Coast, you will see all these shiny bits and first you will say oh wow beautiful but if you look a bit more closely you will realize these are micro plastics, plastics that have been degraded because they have been washed at sea, these is now the biggest problem than the bigger plastics because these is what is being ingested by fish and ending up in our plates”
Flipflopi Project does not come cheap however, and the team is appealing to corporations and organizations to come on board and support project.
“we have proved of our own backs the possibility of something that has never been done before, we now need the support of corporates and individuals to get behind it so that we can build this 20m dhow which would be a world’s first and sailing it to Cape Town is also another world’s first, nobody has ever sailed a dhow around the cape of good hope”
“We are estimate that launching the Plastic Revolution campaign, building the dhow, equipping the boat properly and sailing it to Cape Town, will take three to four months and about $700,000”
By building the boat, the team is not just making a statement about plastic pollution in our oceans but also providing innovative technology that is likely to inspire change across the globe especially in Africa.
“Imagine if you can build something of that size entirely from plastic waste what else can you do? The sky is then the limit and that is exactly what we are trying to show and we can turn something that has become harmful to our environment, turning it into something a solution from more than just building boats, dhows themselves are no longer built in that size because they don’t have hardwoods anymore” Dipesh added.