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Kay Huston with examples of decorations made with recycled beach litter.

Beaches: Litter gets recycled as decorations

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Kay Huston and Jay Dambman, neighbors in Heritage Plantation, have found a way to show people how much trash is on the Pawleys Island beach.

They walk the north end of the island and pick up things that were washed up in the surf or left behind by careless visitors. “Nobody would believe the stuff we find,” Huston said, “till they actually see it.”

The women have made Christmas treasure out of their trash and plan to display it Dec. 5 at Atalaya for the annual holiday fund-raising event sponsored by Friends of Huntington Beach State Park. President Karen Korszeniewiski expects about 1,000 people to attend and buy baked goods and crafts from the Friends between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Admission to the decorated castle will be $3.

During the day, there will be entertainment: Pawleys Island Concert Band, 11 a.m.; Resurrection Ringers, noon; Cornbread and Biscuits, 1 p.m.; Jo Trinkle, 2 p.m.; and Cantorion, 3 p.m. Caterers Murray and Mike’s will be selling food.

Decorations in the various rooms of the castle are not usually for sale, Korszeniewiski said. That would certainly be the case with the room being done by Huston and Dambman.

They have decorated a Christmas tree with swim goggles, sunglasses, fins from a fireworks rocket, a wooden paddle and a Frisbee among other things. They used rope as garland and fishing line to tie everything to the tree. Fishing line is the worst of the litter, Huston said. They sometimes find dead birds tangled in it. Huston said she’s not one to cut them open to see how much plastic they have ingested.

Disfigured aluminum cans that have been pummeled by the surf and sand are also easy-to-find items. “A lot had been out at sea and washed up with holes in them,” Huston said. It’s the plastic that remains intact. Huston said she heard Goffinet McLaren of Litchfield, spokeswoman for the Chirping Bird Society, speak about the harm plastic is doing in the world’s oceans and decided to start removing it from the beach. She had no idea there would be enough lost hats, flip-flops, swim suits and just plain trash to decorate wreaths and a tree.

Huston said her most memorable find came rolling in over the waves. What looked like a ball turned out to be a coconut in orange plastic netting. She finds lots of beach toys that are like new. Everything goes into a sanitizing bath in Huston’s garage before it becomes a decoration or is condemned to the trash can.

The women agreed to decorate a room at Atalaya as a means of getting the word out that trash, especially plastic, is harming the world’s beaches, even Pawleys Island.

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