A few weeks ago, after locking the keys inside my car, my mother sent me a spare key in the mail. As I opened the package, I was surprised to find not just a lone key, but one that was attached to a unicorn keychain. For one embarrassing reason or another, this specific unicorn keychain had once been a prized possession of mine. I was excited to see that it had survived since my childhood, though in no way did it live up to its former glory. The once white face was covered in dirt splotches and an unidentifiable sticky substance. The formerly crystal blue eyes had faded to mere specks of black soot. Overall, It looked pretty rough, and I decided it had to be thrown away.
A friend of mine, who was sitting next to me throughout this process, encouraged me not to throw away the keychain. As an art major, she decided that it could be repainted, and returned to beauty once again. I know this is super cheesy, but I immediately realized what a sustainable option that was. Why throw away this piece of plastic, that once held meaning for me, when I could turn it into something new and beautiful? Why send yet another piece of trash to sit for eternity in a landfill, when I could use it to bring happiness every time I look at my car keys? My friend repainted it, and the originally plain white unicorn is now complete with a hip, purple mane and orange cheetah spots. We now refer to the keychain lovingly as, "my sustainable unicorn."
The Charleston Gazette recently ran an article
about a couple in Southern West Virginia, who have been turning old glass into pieces of jewelry and art for more than 15 years. Claudia Rexroad and Cliff Rock, the husband and wife team who own Willow Creek Glass, operate from their home and use nearly five tons of recycled glass a year to make glass art. The once-dull, discarded trash is smelted in a furnace, and then molded into everything from paperweights and vases, to necklace charms and perfume bottles. They even have a "Budweiser line" which deals exclusively with the brown glass from recycled beer bottles.
In our consumption obsessed society, we are constantly being encouraged to spend money and buy new things. In the process we create unthinkable amounts of trash that could possibly be reused for someone's enjoyment. I think it's important as environmentalists, to start looking at the small steps we can take in our own lives, to decrease the amount of stuff we are discarding. With the holidays coming up, I encourage everyone to check out the Willow Creek Glass website
. I guarantee you can find something for anyone on your gift list, and at a great price, too! Or if you are feeling creative, consider making your own "trash art." We have heard the phrase since childhood, but I think the old saying "one person's trash is an another person's treasure" holds serious significance in today's society.
Photo: Kristina Sandi