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In Kenya a recycling plant is taking flip flops which wash up on the shore, and making toys out of them.
This is a really innovative way of taking stuff which otherwise would go to the landfill (every year hundreds of pairs of flip flops wash up on the countries beaches) and upcycling them into something completely different, giving the plastic a whole new life!
This wonderful collection of junk action figures was put together by Private First Class Rupert Valero, who is stationed at a forward operating base in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A former oil rig engineer, Valero has been collecting and customizing action figures for years, but ever since he was sent to Afghanistan, he had to create his own action figures from recycled materials like bottle caps, soda cans and fabric. The artist/soldier says he has the mind of an engineer and never stops thinking about building things, whether they be robots, buildings, or anything else for that matter. It’s just his way of staying sane in a dangerous place like Afghanistan. Because toys are universal, people react to them the same whether they are in the middle of the desert or in America, and Private Valero says they have allowed him to interact with the locals. By giving a child one of his upcycled action figures he puts a smile on his face and maybe takes his mind off doing something that he shouldn’t do.
You can buy Rupert’s upcycled action figures at reasonable prices, on his Etsy shop, and you can find an extended interview with him, here.
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