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Eco-friendly manufacturer in UK turns focus to curbing flip flop sandal waste

Discarded flip flops, worn by 3 billion people around the world, have become an ecological catastrophe

Parkville, through the newly launched FlipYarn programme, is recycling used flip flops into sunglasses and other sustainable consumer products.
Parkville, through the newly launched FlipYarn programme, is recycling used flip flops into sunglasses and other sustainable consumer products.

FlipYarn is a pioneering recycling programme now being launched by UK based Parkville, an eco-friendly manufacturer of sustainable wooden eyewear, homeware and haircare products, to collect and upcycle discarded flip flops (or rubber slippers) across Sri Lanka. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday 20th of August, to raise capital for investment in additional machinery and expansion of the team dedicated to FlipYarn.

According to Parkville, flip flops are worn by some 3 billion people around the world and discarded flip flops have become an ecological catastrophe for our oceans, beaches, marine life and environment, yet there are currently almost no flip flop recycling programs. 

With FlipYarn, discarded flip flops are collected, thoroughly cleaned and sanitized them and then upcycled to create products such as high grade affordable sunglasses and accessories. Parkville says it is a world first to make sunglasses from flip flops, and adds that FlipYarn offcuts are shredded for use as packing materials in keeping with a strict no-waste policy.

Flip flops (or rubber slippers) are the most widely worn footwear in the world with some 3 billion people wearing them regularly. They are colourful, cheap and readily available to all socio-economic users. They are the number one footwear in China, India and Africa as well as many other parts of the world including Sri Lanka. For many in the developing world, these are the only footwear they can afford. Global sales in 2019/2020 are projected to top USD 18 billion with many major fashion houses having them as one of their must have accessories.

The humble flip flop may be a great footwear solution but very few of us consider what happens when they come to the end of their useful life of typically 12- years. Discarded flip flops pose a major environmental problem as flip flop waste cannot be recycled.

Flip flops are typically manufactured from cheap materials such as plastic, foam and rubber and create massive non-biodegradable waste that ends up in our oceans, waterways, environment and landfills. Discarded flip flops may take anywhere between 200 to 1,000 years to degrade, in the process damaging ecosystems and killing plants and animals. 

Large marine life such as sea turtles and whales are dying as they eat them whole, while smaller animals ingest micro plastics that occur as flip flops photodegrade into micro particles. Toxic flip flop chemicals and dyes seep into our water, while clogged beaches and waterways leave animals unable to access their breeding grounds to lay eggs. A recent scientific study of Australia's Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean estimated over 1 million plastic shoes, mainly flip flops, had washed up on the beaches of this tiny and previously "unspoilt paradise".

We are very proud and excited to announce our flip flop waste collection and upcycling program where we collect discarded flip flops and turn them into fun and innovative FlipYarn products! These flip flops are collected from waterways, beach clean-ups as well as designated collection points and sorted at waste sorting facilities here in Sri Lanka where our Parkville factory is located. 

We have teamed up with leading beach clean-up and waste collection organisations, Eco Friends SL and Rotaract District of Sri Lanka and Maldives, to help recycle as many discarded flip flop pairs as possible!

Once collected the old flip flops are thoroughly cleaned and sanitised. We then sand them down and upcycle the fully refreshed material and repurpose them into affordable, high grade, fun and colourful FlipYarn sunglasses, bracelets, necklaces and keyrings. Our FlipYarn offcuts are shredded for use as padding and packing materials. All of our sunglasses are fitted with custom spring hinges for maximum comfort and flexible fit as well as with market leading UV 400 scratch resistant lenses - the top standard in the eyewear industry - in both normal and polarised versions. The product comes in a recycled box with a carry pouch, a microfibre cloth, full warranty and 30 day money back guarantee.

Parkville (see is an eco-friendly sustainable eyewear, homeware, haircare and accessories brand started four years ago by two brothers from London to address the environmental plastics crisis by working solely with locally sourced sustainable wood. The company proudly makes all products in a factory in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a country known for its beautiful ecology, skilled workforce, wonderful culture and extremely welcoming people. 

According to Parkville: "We started out with the manufacture and sale of high grade wooden sunglasses in response to the ecological threat of the hundreds of millions of largely plastic sunglasses sold every year around the world that are never recycled and can never biodegrade. From there we developed a range of affordable high quality wooden furniture and homeware accessories as well as teaming up with the Valentino Salon in London to develop a range of unique eco-friendly wooden hair brushes and other haircare products.

All our wood is ethically sourced and for every product sold we plant a tree in partnership with Trees for the Future, the non-profit organisation helping communities around the world to plant trees. We incentivise recycling of discarded flip flops by paying the people working with us in waste sorting and collection, thus contributing to the socio-economic wellbeing of directly affected communities."

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