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Turning trash into treasure: Meet the Texan who's making works of art from what she finds on the beach

“It’s the beginning of what I hope to be a snowball effort to clean up our beaches of this plastic and other trash,” said Jennifer Breunig.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Friday is Earth Day, a day to appreciate and protect our planet, but for one Padre Island resident--  every day is Earth Day.  

What began as just looking for seashells on the beach for a school project quickly turned into a successful business for Jennifer Breunig in just a matter of two months.

“Shells, plastic, and some sand- I’m very careful with the sand because there’s beach erosion issues so we don’t want to contribute to that, but the sand is everywhere I can’t avoid it,” said Breunig.

Breunig is proving that one person's trash is another's treasure by creating works of art from what she finds on our area beaches.

“I kind of all started when my girls and I were gathering shells to make into jewelry,” said Breunig. “I saw this plastic and said, 'you know what? it doesn’t feel right leaving it, let's pick it up,' and then it didn’t feel right throwing it away so it popped into my head, 'hey we can melt this down into a mold and work with this.' ”

Breunig’s dining table quickly became her workspace, where she makes different jewelry pieces like earrings and necklaces.

“I have every kind of charm you can think of, it just depends on the molds, I have a number of molds,” said Breunig’s.

Credit: KIII

Breunig is also working on some custom pieces.

“If you think bigger, I’m doing tic-tac-toe boards, dominoes, I have a chess board that I’ve poured that is sand and shells,” said Breunig.

You could call the beach her marketplace and she plans to make use of anything she finds.

“I’m looking into ways that we can use the plastic in architectural design elements and furniture- there’s so much that can be done,” said Breunig.

Each item is delicately and meticulously made. It can take hours to make one piece, but by breathing new life into it she’s able to make them more sustainable.

“It’s the beginning of what I hope to be a snowball effort to clean up our beaches of this plastic and other trash,” said Breunig.

These hand-crafted pieces of art also serving as a reminder of just how special our backyard is.

Credit: KIII

“It’s to remember padre island and it’s also to remember the impact you have around you,” said Breunig.

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