Protecting the Galapagos Islands has always posed two challenging questions: How can local people make a living when fishing is protected, water is scarce, and 96 percent of the land is national park? And what to do with all the trash tourists generate? Lindblad Expeditions, one of the few cruise lines permitted in the area, has found a clever way to tackle both issues. The company just launched a partnership with Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon, New York, to turn Galapagos trash into tourist treasure. Local artisans trained by the glass shop are busy reworking the never-ending supply of discarded bottles into jewelry and figurines. Our favorite? Earrings shaped like the flippers of the archipelago’s famous blue-footed booby, courtesy of old Skyy vodka bottles. These, along with angelfish charms and bottleneck hoops, among other designs, will be available as souvenirs at Lindblad’s nonprofit gallery on Santa Cruz Island this spring. Talk about a perfect solution—tourists will now actually pay to take home their own garbage.

Story by Maria Ricapito. This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008