Glass -recycled and up cycled- becomes an intriguing work of art

July 24, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

BY OLIVIA CAMERON- Glass bottles are the least biodegradable item, taking what is predicted to be one million years to decompose. According to Tisha Bayne, the office coordinator for Keep Lee County Beautiful, “Research does say it takes glass a very, very long time to break down. It can take a glass bottle one million years to decompose in the environment, possibly even more if it’s in a landfill.” However, one man’s trash might as well be another’s treasure.
Sea glass has become a beautiful collectable, especially in seaside towns. Because it decomposes at a painstakingly slow rate, sea glass is often up cycled into jewelry. Local shops have been selling jewelry crafted with genuine sea glass for years. This wasted item is admired so much that many shops have begun to make fake sea glass and sell it as merchandise. 
Sandy at Barbara Anne’s Jewelry & Boutique says there is a way to determine real from fake sea glass, and it’s all in the texture. Sea glass gets it’s rough exterior from tumbling in the ocean. Fake sea glass is typically smooth and may come in a wider variety of colors.
“They drop glass out at sea from cruise ships,” said Sandy. “The lady I used to work for was very knowledgeable on sea glass. She told me a story about it, and a lot of times you don’t see different colors because the ocean doesn’t color bottles.”
Bayne confirmed the sources in of which sea glass originates. “Beach glass is formed from tableware, glass used on ships, bottles and household items that have been discarded into the water.” The glass can be prevalent off the shores of tourist destinations where cruise lines and party boats set sail. 
When the broken glass erodes, it is formed into a shape similar to a rock with rounded edges but a gritty surface.
In different hues of green, blue and brown, sea glass is commonly wrapped in wire or plucked into a necklace and worn as a treasured piece of jewelry. 
Keep Lee County Beautiful has focused on coastal cleanup in the past, which involves collecting trash that has washed up on the shore. Little pieces of glass are considered a difficult pickup because of the way glass shatters and stirs with the sand.
Lee County Solid Waste encourages locals to recycle green, brown and clear glass bottles and jars. If not recycled properly, glass may stir below sea level until repurposed into fashion.