Haystack Rock Awareness Program

Cannon Beach classes turn litter into learning

Participants in the Trash Talk series convert beach garbage into art while expanding their environmental awareness

Few things ruin a walk on the beach like seeing it littered with trash. I’ve picked up kite packaging, water jugs, firework debris, shoes, lighters — just about everything but cash. I once came upon an entire fleet of children’s plastic trucks sitting on the sand, waiting for the surf to sweep them out to sea. The kinder, gentler me likes to think that was done in the spirit of sharing with the next kids who came along. The cranky broad in me suspects the culprits were just lazy and disrespectful.

Many of us here on the Coast make it our duty to pick up what we can. In Cannon Beach, they’re taking it one step further with Trash Talks, a nine-part series of classes that guide participants in transforming beach trash into art. The series is presented by the Cannon Beach Arts Association and Haystack Rock Awareness Program and supported by a grant from the Oregon Coast Visitors Association.

A workshop in December turned plastics collected on the beach into holiday ornaments.

“The idea of the classes is to get people to reframe the way they think about beach trash,” said Meagan Sokol, arts education director for the arts association. She noted that besides the visual blight, trash can be deadly to seabirds, which are attracted by bright colors and often ingest it with deadly consequences. She added that the program is trying to get people to think about that, “to think, I can pick this up and do something with it. I can be a beach steward by cleaning up.”

Previous classes have made Christmas decorations using glass ornaments, trash, and beach plastic encapsulated in vegetable-based resin. The latter prevents the continued off-gassing of the plastic. In the Ocean Knots/Karma Mat Making class, students created small mats from fishing rope collected from the beach.

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