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Vancouver mall hosts largest flip flop art exhibit in the world

Waste to Wonder highlights conservation efforts of Ocean Sole Africa

A new art exhibit on display in the Grand Court of Metropolis at Metrotown offers a powerful message about conservation efforts in both Africa and Canada.

Waste to Wonder is made up of five life-size sculptures of Canadian at-risk wildlife — narwhals, orcas, bison, grizzly and caribou — each made from recycled flip flops. More than 6,500 flip flops were used to make the sculptures, which required more than 2,500 hours of work by more than two dozen artists.

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of discarded pairs of the synthetic-rubber sandals have been found in bodies of water and along shorelines across the globe. What’s worse, flip flops are often made with non-recyclable materials that contain chemicals harmful to humans, animals and plants.

That’s the inspiration behind the efforts of Ocean Sole Africa, a Kenya-based social enterprise that “upcycles” flip-flop waste and turns it into animal art sculptures. Ocean Sole Africa handcrafted the custom Waste to Wonder display, the organization's largest exhibit in the world to date.

The goal behind this and other Ocean Sole Africa projects is to not only create beautiful works of art, but also promote conversation about environmental issues, as well as provide employment.

“Ocean Sole Africa is creating beautiful, important work that entertains people while also encouraging them to think harder about our planet,” Judy Black, marketing director for Metropolis at Metrotown said in anews release. “We’re thrilled to be hosting their largest exhibit yet. I look forward to this and the other Waste to Wonder activities, and the positive impact it’s sure to have on Metropolis visitors of all ages.”

In addition to the exhibit, many special Waste to Wonder activities are also taking place in the Grand Court, including a selfie station with an iconic Canadian beaver sculpture, artist demonstrations and meet and greet, upcycle bracelet workshops, upcycle Kiehl’s workshop, plastics recycling drives, contest giveaways, and more.

As well, each sculpture is available for purchase through an online auction with a starting bid of $5,000. All proceeds will be donated to Variety – the Children’s Charity. For more details, visit the auction kiosk at the exhibit or online at

Waste to Wonder is on at Metropolis at Metrotown, 4700 Kingsway in Burnaby, now through Sept. 8 during mall hours.