Thai non-profit Tlejourn Shoes is helping to clear the ocean of plastic by turning discarded flip flops in to shoe soles which are recycled to create new footwear.
The footwear company is the brainchild of southern Thailand native Dr Nattapong Nithi-Uthai, a polymer scientist at Prince of Songkhla University, who along with his team devised a low-tech, inexpensive way to upcycle old flip-flops by grinding them into small pieces and then gluing them together into one solid piece. This solid piece provides the raw material from which Tlejourne sandals and other products are made.
Trash Hero Pattani, an active environmental group active on the coast of southern Thailand which Dr Nattapong Nithi-Uthai co-founded, hosts weekly collections of waste materials washed onto beaches every. Marine trash is separated into two categories. Then, non-recyclable items are put through the proper channels, while rubber parts from old shoes, boat fenders and side protectors are converted into reusable raw materials.
A team of female villagers from a rural village outside of Pattani assemble Tlejourn’s footwear range, which include flip flips, sandals for watersports use, and women’s sandals featuring natural fabrics. Tlejourn’s profits are shared with the locals who make the flip-flops on a part-time basis, enabling them to supplement their income while maintaining their main job.
Dr Nattapong Nithi-Uthai told Living Asean: “In the last four years we sold more than a hundred thousand shoes. As a result of that, a half of ocean trash have disappeared from local area beaches. but heaps of refuse remained. It’s an almost incredible tale of a waste crisis. Everything is on a grand scale. By making Tlejourn footwear out of recycled ocean waste, we join other environmental groups in a wider effort to rid the ocean of discarded materials. It’s a formidable challenge. Everyone can chip in to make the problem go away, and we are campaigning to turn those heaps of ocean waste into creative products, not just shoes.”
Tlejourn recently collaborated with Nanyang, one of Thailand’s oldest shoe brands, to create its own upcycled sandal, the “KHYA”, made using recycled ocean waste and materials left over from the fashion industry.
The footwear brand recently made it’s Tokyo Fashion Week debut when it teamed up with designer group Muzina of Japan on a line of women’s shoes, Muzina x Tlejourn, which featured in a fashion show.
Images Source: Tlejourn Shoes Facebook Page
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com