By Nicholas Aziz
While Wrightsville Beach attracts throngs of tourists each summer for its spacious beach strand, these crowds will often also create the unwanted side effect of litter. But for a crew of 20 local elementary school students, this litter served as the resources for unique art pieces this week.
The fourth grade students of the Bradley Creek Elementary School Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program learned the art technique from local artist Jazz Undy, who hosted the students on Tuesday, May 15 at his Wrightsville Beach Art Company studio at 32 N Lumina Ave.
Under Undy’s supervision, the students walked along the beach, digging through the ground to find any sign of trash hidden in the sandy shores. The litter will be incorporated into their artwork, which they hope will raise environmental awareness as well as expose the problems of litter on the beach.
The field trip brought out an enthusiastic response from the students, dashing around with soon-to-be-filled buckets as though they were participating in a scavenger hunt. They cheered out every time they found a discarded item, with cries of glee ringing out over the beach as they searched for trash to make their art.
“It’s great to get them outside and actually learn about the outdoors,” said Lisa, a mother of one of the children. “They’re into the environment– they’re passionate.”
In order to reduce plastic waste, three of the Bradley Creek Elementary students are attempting to ban the use of plastic straws in their cafeteria, which have included a meeting with the school’s head of nutrition. Other students express the want to help the environment creatively, with one student even writing a book about stopping plastic waste.
Aside from beer bottle caps, Undy and the students discovered a number of cigarette butts buried in the sand, which he said not uncommon. The kids also discovered receipts, rose petals, clothes, half-eaten, rotten bits of food, numerous cardboard boxes, plastic wrappings, broken surfboards and beach chairs.
“We find cigarette butts,” Undy says, “Which is illegal because you’re not allowed to smoke on the beach since four years ago, but these kids find them all the time. It’s really bad. I don’t mind people smoking, but it’s not too much to ask for people to throw their things away.”