Travel Stories

Sea glass: From Trash to Treasure

As we were waiting for the boat that will take us to White Island that morning in Camiguin, I busied myself with looking for some sea glass at the beach. I remembered from the trip I had last July 2018 how interested my friends were about this thing that they even looked for a souvenir shop in Cagayan de Oro City that sells a necklace with it. Since then, these ocean gems have fascinated me.

I gave the shore a combing look when my eyes locked into a white one tucked beneath the black sand and broken shells. I squatted to get it and kept it in my pouch.

“Hey, what happened with the ‘take nothing but pictures’ principle?” Joseph asked. I pulled it out from my bag and told him,

“I picked up a treasure made of trash,”

a collection of sea glass laid around a ceramic mermaid tail
My sea glass collection from Catarman, Camiguin and Anilao, Batangas

What is a Sea Glass?

Sea glasses are actually broken pieces of glass. These shards came from bottles of beers, perfumes, soft drinks, ceramics or wrecks washed into the oceans; hence, trash. This explains why they are of various colors. The tides, waves, rock and sand tumbled them naturally at the ocean for at least 15 to 30 years. This phenomenon polished these glasses eventually making it appear like smooth and colorful stones at the shores.

Its value also depends on its rarity. The enthusiasts and collectors consider factors such as colors, size, shape and age in identifying its value and rarity. Its price ranges from $6 to $100+ depending on its characteristics and of course, its embellishments.

A collection of sea glass of different colors on top of a black surface
My treasured sea glass collection since 2018
Take note that the blue, orange, red, yellow and pink are among the rarest of them!

Where to Find Sea Glass?

If you are keen enough, you’d be able to find them on your casual stroll in a shore of a beach. In my case, I found mine in pebbly and grainy sand public beaches near residential communities in the Philippines particularly in Batangas and Camiguin.

The greatest question in here would be, “Is it perfectly fine to be picking them up and personally collecting them?” In other countries, especially in the US, Bermuda, Australia, Hawaii, England, Scotland, where sea glass is the main highlight of an attraction or point of interest, say a beach or a bay, collecting them is illegal. Meanwhile, there are no laws in the Philippines that explicitly state that collecting such is illegal. However, we should also consider that it has been a part of the locals’ livelihood already. So, letting them be is like showing a way to support them, too, since we are giving way for them. After realizing this, I stopped collecting them already and just enjoyed whatever I have had for the past two years.

The Sea Glass Museum and Art Gallery

The Island of Camiguin is well-known not only for the Lanzones Festival but also for sea glass. Actually, there is a Sea Glass Museum and Art Gallery in the province that showcases various sea to shore treasures, its types and pieces and even artworks made out of sea glass. Everyone is welcome in the museum that is located in Brgy. Bug-Ong, along Camiguin Road in Mambajao. You can also take home a piece of these sea treasures by buying souvenirs from their gallery.

Camiguin’s Sea Glass Museum and Art Gallery
Photo by Treasures Camiguin

Where to Buy Sea Glass Jewelries

Apparently, there have been businesses that support the locals through making timeless pieces out of these treasures. Among those are the following:

Cat + Kai Handmade Jewelry

Cat + Kai Handmade Jewelry sells sophisticated, unique and personalized jewelries made out of sea glass and silver. You may check their items on their Facebook page or their Instagram account. For inquiries, you may reach them through their e-mail:

hand made jewelries
Some of the loveliest designs by Cat + Kai! Gift ideas, yeah?
Photo by @catkaihandmade

Sakilid Bay-Bay

Trivia time! Sakilid Bay-Bay is a Hiligaynon phrase which means “by the sea”. Recently, they partnered with the locals from Isla Verde, Batangas who supply them the weathered broken glasses. Thus, supporting this shop through buying sea glass jewelries also means helping the locals of Isla Verde in a way.

sea glass jewelries
Isn’t that charm bracelet lovely?
Photo by Reef Nomads

Treasures Camiguin

A Non-Government Organization, Komunidad sa Baibai, runs Treasures Camiguin which provides livelihood for the locals of Agoho Village, Camiguin Island. They encourage both local children and women to participate into their sustainability and entrepreneurship project that would also benefit them. This project involves arts and crafts including the making of the sea glass accessories.

a kid in festival costume handing out sea glasses
The Island Born of Fire is also known for the sea glasses!
Photo by Treasures Camiguin

So, if you’re looking for something precious as a present to a loved one, this might be a good idea! You’re not just only making someone else happy with it but you’re also supporting a local community at the bays.

Parting Words

Indeed, the sea incredibly makes treasures out of trash. However, we should be reminded that this is not always the case. There are trash that the ocean could not deal the same way and this greatly affects the life underwater that it holds. Hence, as stewards of nature, let’s do our part in taking care of the ocean through our own simple ways.

Related article: Towards Sustainability: Be Eco-Friendly with Style!

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.

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