Waste To Wonder: Upcycled art on display at Metropolis at Metrotown [Events]

Waste To Wonder Caribou Up Close

Waste To Wonder Exhibit on display until September 8, 2019.

One of the biggest exhibits that changed how we recycle and purchase things in our home has moved on from the Vancouver Aquarium, but Metropolis at Metrotown has brought in an exhibit that in my opinion is right on par with showing the effects of what our everyday choices are doing to our planet. You won’t want to miss bringing the kids to the Waste To Wonder Exhibit happening now in the Grand Court.

There’s a lot we don’t think about in our day-to-day lives. Autopilot, wake up kids, go to work, go home, take care of the house, sleep and rinse repeat. There’s a lot of things we don’t think about though, and that’s the extreme dangerous our world is in due to the threat of single use plastics and the chemicals they carry with them.

Discarded Flip Flop Pile Waste To Wonder

We know now about the dangers of single-use plastics in our oceans. From plastic bags, plastic straws and everything in between, the impact they are having on our environment is staggering and we’ve made a conscious effort in our home to drastically lessen the use of these items to hope, in small part, to make a small difference.

One thing that never crossed my mind however was how clothing choices also impact everything around us. Did you know that flip-flops are often NOT recyclable, not compostable and are often made of synthetic rubber that is laden with dangerous chemicals that leech into the water? It’s scary right? And it’s the reality. Hundreds of thousands of these colourful little summer fashion accessories are washing up on shores all around the world.

Ocean Sole Africa artist Jonathan making baby rhino

Can these items be turned into something beautiful? Inspiring? Colourful and awe-inspiring? They sure can with the help of Ocean Sole Africa – a Kenya-based social enterprise that aims to “upcycle” these discarded flip-flops and turn them into eye-catching, colourful pieces of art.

The Metropolis at Metrotown Waste to Wonder Exhibit was created as one of Ocean Sole Africas largest exhibits in the world to date and includes 5 life-sized sculptures of at risk Canadian wildlife. On display is a narwhal, orca, bison, grizzly, and caribou – made by hand out of flip-flops! More than 6,500 flip flops in total were used to make the sculptures, requiring 2,500+ hours of work by more than two dozen artists.

Ocean Sole Africa artist Jonathan with Orca Whale

We had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan, one of the Kenyan artists as he sculpted, cut and glued together discarded flip flops to create incredible works of art in front of our very eyes. It was extremely humbling to stand next to someone so passionate about their work and the long-lasting conservation education it can bring to communities.

Helisa & Tara BC MOM posing with Waste To Wonder flip flop bear

Waste To Wonder Banner Grand Court Metrotown

This life-sized creations are also up for grabs during the activation! Fans can bid online to bring home one of the one of a kind pieces of art, whether you plan to display in a corporate setting, in your home, school or the like, the conversations these animals evoke are powerful and memorable. By adopting one of the displays, you are supporting Variety – The Children’s Charity with all adoption proceeds being donated directly to this truly deserving charity.

Waste To Wonder Exhibit auction screen up close

In addition to the exhibit, many special Waste to Wonder activities will be taking place in the Grand Court including a selfie station with an iconic Canadian beaver sculpture (he’s adorable, trust me!), artist demo / meet & greet, upcycle bracelet workshops, upcycle Kiehl’s workshop, plastics recycling drives, contest giveaways, and more.

Event Details:

What: The Metropolis Waste To Wonder Exhibit

Where: Metropolis at Metrotown Grand Court – 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby.

When: August 8th – September 8th – Open daily during regular mall hours:

  • Monday to Saturday, 10am – 9pm
  • Sunday and holidays, 10am – 7pm


Metropolis Plastics Recycling Drive – August 15th, 22nd and 29th from 12:00pm-4:00pm First 800 customers per day, limit of 1 gift per person, while quantities last.  Plastics accepted: plastic bags, empty plastic bottles, 6-pack rings, straws, and one-time single-use empty clean plastic containers.  A minimum of one full, average size grocery plastic bag is needed, per customer, to receive a free gift.

Upcycle your skin care containers with Kiehls – August 21st at 3:00pm and 4:00pm – Bring in your Kiehl’s skincare containers and upcycle them into planters! Registration highly recommended.

Upcycle Bracelet Workshop – August 28th at 2:00pm, 3:00pm, and 4:00pm. Registration highly recommended.

** Please note that ALL children 12 and under must be supervised by a parent or guardian during the workshops, they take approximately 30 minutes. Please plan accordingly **


It wouldn’t be a Metropolis at Metrotown event without some contests, right?

Head to the Grand Court and take a guess at how many flip-flops it took to create their whale at one of the contest kiosks for the chance to win a $1000 shopping spree. While you’re there, snap some photos and share on social media using the  hashtag #METwastetowonder and tag @Metropolisatmet  and you could win a $500 Gift Card to spend at any of their 375 stores! This would kick start some serious holiday shopping.

This display is a great way to have an open chat with your friends and family about the lasting effects our everyday choices are making on the world around us. We hope you’ll stop by to check it out! A huge thank you to Metropolis at Metrotown for sponsoring this post and inviting us to the media preview. As always, our support of Metropolis at Metrotown and continued support of sustainable and eco-friendly activities for families are our own and not influenced by any sponsors.

We hope you’ll make it down to take a selfie with the beaver, read up on some of the facts about our at risk wildlife and support Ocean Sole Africa. Who knows, maybe this exhibit will inspire you or your family to create some fun upcycled art to display in your own home!

Tara Jensen
Tara is a parenting influencer based on the West Coast. With her full time career in health care, she focuses on green living, healthy family choices and encouraging families to live a fabulously frugal lifestyle. She lives on coffee, cuddles and post-its, generally in that order. When she isn’t working, she can be found outdoors exploring beautiful British Columbia with her family.