If you’ve been following along the last few months - you know that I have been actively picking up litter off of beaches in NJ and NYC. It’s been a combo of solo efforts as well as duo / group efforts. I have primarily focused on Coney Island (where I co-hosted a group clean up with my friend Fiona in October), but have also picked up trash by myself at Sandy Hook, Wildwood, Rockaway Beach, Long Island, and even an old landfill. It’s been fascinating.. as well as heartbreaking... to see the differences (and also the similarities) in what I’ve picked up at each location.
While I’m fairly new to the active litter picking community, I have always had a deep love for the outdoors. I grew up with a backyard that connected to the woods, and spent a lot of time out there. Every summer, I looked forward to going down to the Jersey Shore. Over the years, the beach has become a meditative happy place for me. A non-negotiable form of self care. This summer, I spent a lot of time walking beaches alone trying to sort through some personal demons (a lot of self doubt)… and one day in late August at Coney Island I decided to consciously switch modes from my typical beach combing (for sea glass, shells, etc) to pick up trash. It was a really eye opening experience - that made me question not only my own negative impact on the planet but the impact we collectively as the human race make.
I always sort what I can for recycling, but know that a majority of it will sadly end up in landfill. This doesn’t sit right with me because while *yes* it IS better that it’s not in the ocean… it’s not exactly *much* better to bury it into the earth somewhere else. That all too true sentiment makes me feel really powerless… (like the act of removing it from the beach just isn’t enough) - so I’ve started keeping an assortment of the plastics I pick up. Of course, it’s physically impractical for me to keep it ALL - but I plan to use what I can to create art and continue the important bigger conversation through that art.
I keep coming back to the Carrie Fisher quote:
“Take your broken heart, make it into art.” ♥️
I clean the plastic that I do keep - and during that intimate process of individual scrubbing and rinsing, I’ve come to notice specific pieces of trash that resonate with me. As a graphic designer, I am always looking for color, texture, pattern, etc. in the world around me - and I started seeing certain pieces of plastic as potential “design elements.” With the holiday season rapidly approaching, and the weather getting colder (and ideal beach days becoming more and more sparse) I started stockpiling more and more material (trash) anticipating this desire to create that I felt so deeply called to pursue.
For awhile, I didn’t know what I was going to make… but soon enough I started seeing a reindeer antler… a Christmas star… a red bow that would make the perfect neck tie on a snowman… repeat forms that would make for the perfect snowflake. I knew what I was going to make! BEACH PLASTIC GREETING CARDS!!! Starting with the most wonderful card occasion of all — Christmas. ☺️
The cards are all available to purchase over on my Etsy shop. $1 from every card order made this month will be donated to the Surfrider Foundation, an organization that works to clean up trash off of beaches worldwide.
I’m SO excited about this new creative venture of mine. I’ve been telling people this is the closest I’ve ever felt to combining all the things I love about this life into one thing. Getting outside and going to the beach, color / art / design / photography, helping the environment, AND the holidays! I feel like I hit the creativity jackpot or something. 😂
This is just the beginning, and I’m already dreaming up some new card designs for other occasions! 😉Stay tuned for what’s next. 💕