Plastiki Rafiki Sets Sail!

Plastiki Rafiki Partners with Flipflopi for the Lake Victoria Expedition

Plastiki Rafiki is excited to announce a partnership with the Flipflopi project for their upcoming Lake Victoria expedition. The purpose of the United Nations Environmental Program backed expedition is to raise awareness about the environmental damage caused by single-use plastics, advocating for the East African community to work together to develop multilateral legislation to limit their use and encourage re-use and recycling as part of a sustainable circular economy.

Lake Victoria, which sits between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, is Africa’s largest freshwater lake and the second-largest in the world. The principal source of the River Nile, the lake supports over 40 million people and a wonderful diversity of fauna and flora. The United Nations states that a staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans every year and 90% of this plastic comes from ten major rivers – the Nile being one of them. The heritage and health of the oceans are connected to the health of Lake Victoria, and we require a change in mindset and a change in behavior from both the upstream and downstream stakeholders and communities to bring about positive change.

As part of the partnership with The Flipflopi, Plastiki Rafiki plans to establish a plastic recycling workshop on the shores of lake Victoria, with Flipflopi’s base partner, Dunga Hill Camp. The workshop will recycle discarded plastic waste into unique products and will serve as a community space for others to learn about the process. Plastiki Rafiki will build the machines, supply molds and provide training. In addition, Plastiki Rafiki has been busy creating recycled plastic products to showcase during the expedition, focusing on products relevant to the lakeshore communities.

Both Plastiki Rafiki and the Flipflopi project, operating out of Kenya, share one goal: they intend to “demonstrate that single-use plastic doesn’t make sense” and inspire people around the world “to find their own ways to repurpose ‘already-used’ plastic”.

The Flipflopi is the world’s first sailing  boat  made entirely out of recycled beach plastic, aiming both to prove what is possible with the material and to show that single use plastics simply don’t make sense.  In January 2020, the dhow travelled 500kms from Lamu to Zanzibar and back to Mombasa to raise awareness about marine pollution as part of the UNEP Clean Seas Program. They are now taking this message upstream in order to raise awareness of the problem of single-use plastics and encourage new regional legislation to be passed  to prevent further environmental damage as a result of single-use plastic, and reverse some of the damage already done. 

Plastiki Rafiki is a student-run group founded at, and operating out of, the International School of Kenya (ISK). Plastiki Rafiki has worked to develop plastic recycling machinery suitable for the Kenyan context, based on Precious Plastic’s open-source designs. In addition to machine design and fabrication, the Plastiki Rafiki team also design and fabricate molds for unique products that can be produced using their machines and they run workshops and training with the goal of encouraging more people to get involved in grassroots plastic collection and recycling. All profits from the sale of Plastiki Rafiki products go towards machine development and supporting community initiatives and partnerships that work towards a greener and cleaner Kenya for all.
Ultimately, the goal of this partnership is to bring an end to single-use plastics in Kenya and East Africa – and that’s an effort that you can be a part of. You can sign this petition put forward by the Flipflopi team to end single-use plastic in East Africa. You can also support the cause by donating to the Flipflopi project or buying unique Plastiki Rafiki products. Of course, you can also exercise your own power as a consumer to buy consciously and remember that the things you throw away end up out in the world somewhere.

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