Hello there! My name's Luke, I am a marine biologist and I spend 99% of my life in flip flops. My first real introduction to our oceans was watching Jaws when I was a child. Whilst most children hid behind a sofa, I was fascinated. From there on it was books and documentaries during every free moment. Blue Planet was always on repeat. For the last 15 years I have worked throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, and for most of that time I have been campaigning about the dangers of plastic pollution. I even paddled 27 between two islands in the Atlantic, in a boat made of plastic bottles found on beaches, to raise awareness of the danger of ocean plastic pollution.
Having lived on beaches for most of my adult life, I love flip flops. However, wherever I have worked in the world, I have always seen them washed up on beaches, floating, or on the sea bed. I got to thinking, it's not just plastic bags and plastic bottles that we need to rethink. So, having a deep passion for our oceans and with a desire to deliver what the flip flop industry was missing, I set out to disrupt the status quo and provide a planet-friendly alternative. In 2020 I founded Sea Sense.
“One of the largest pollutants in the ocean is polyurethane from flip flops that have been washed or thrown into rivers and flow into the ocean.” Dr. Stephen Mayfield, Biology Professor, UC San Diego.
Once I started my research, I discovered that 3 billion pairs of plastic flip flops are sold every year throughout the world, they are the world's most popular shoe. Bonkers! I wanted to have a focus on sustainability, that was not going to leave a footprint on our planet. To do this, using plastic was out of the question. Therefore, to offer an eco-friendly swap to your normal brand, Sea Sense flip flops are crafted from biodegradable natural rubber. The next step was to find said rubber. So. Off I went.
Having spent time in Vietnam, I knew that I would be able to find a great natural rubber farmer, who had a sustainable farming process. It is so important to us that everyone we employ is paid a fair wage and has good working conditions. We will not compromise on this. Having sourced the natural rubber, I came to the realisation. This wasn't enough. By using an eco-friendly version of the world's most popular shoe, there was a chance to make a contribution to solving one of the world's biggest environmental problems.
The team needed to grow. At this point you need to realise I was working out of a shed in the garden! They say never work with your family, but first pick to join the team was Gavin, my dear old Dad. He's always been a great source of wisdom, so I knew I had to get him on board. Also Jean, my dear Mum, she's the organised one, who was instrumental in getting the logistics off the ground.
With added manpower we managed to team up with great organisations around the world, from Sierra Leone to Indonesia. All who are doing their very best to try and have an impact on their local environment.
We have continued to add to the team, and have long since moved out of the shed!! We are now all so excited for the future. We have been been the finalist in and won awards. We are already the UK's Top Rated Flip Flops, and the World's Favourite Eco-Friendly Flip Flops. Importantly we have already collected the equivalent of more than 2 million ocean-bound plastic bottles, and provided a vital wage to over 500 plastic collectors.
For us, this is the very beginning. We cannot wait to see the progress we make year on year, and the impact we have on plastic pollution, but also on the lives of those that we are supporting in developing countries.
We can't wait to welcome you on our journey.