As a child growing up along the Gulf Coast, I loved building sand castles on Navarre Beach. As a tot I would splash through the surf to collect shells to decorate my sandy creations.
But to build these creations you need the tools of the trade and vacationing moms and dads frequently get roped into shelling out a pretty penny to buy buckets, shovels, sand molds and more. Walk into any store from Walmart to the Dollar Tree to even the Tom Thumb and odds are you will find a variety
No longer! At least not here on the Panhandle’s most beautiful beach. The pioneering folks at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center have come up with a great idea to help visitors and the environment.
The Borrow Bin was created at the June 14 to allow visitors to recycle, rather than buy, beach toys.
In its first week the bin is already filled with toys found along the shoreline. According to county ordinance nothing but foot prints should be left on the beach at dusk.
But the toys are Plastics are one of the leading pollutants cleaned up from the beach, and among the empty bottles and lids, beach sand toys are a leading find. Plastics left on the beach are washed into the Gulf of Mexico where they are broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. But they never truly go away. Instead they become microplastics.
Microplastics pose a big threat to all sorts of marine life including colorful reef fish and sea turtles. These plastic pieces can often absorb toxins from the environment.
When animals like sea turtles or small fish mistake them for food, they eat them and leech the toxins into their system. The plastics can also cause obstructions in their digestive tract, tricking them into thinking they are full. This can cause them to starve to death.
By having a place for people to borrow and replace their plastic toys, the NBSTCC hopes to lower the number of toys being left behind. And it means a cost savings for visitors.
The 8 foot by 2 foot wooden Borrow Bin is located out front of the NBSTCC and open all day. It contains a variety of beach toy items including small plastic sand molds, brightly colored shovels, various-sized buckets, balls and even boogie boards. In addition to the items that are collected from beach cleanup, residents have also taken the time to donate items to the haul.
The one stipulation for using the free toys is you have to remove them from the beach at the end of the day.
It’s all part of the NBSTCC’s mission: “giving sea turtles more tomorrows.” Come build a sand castle with the toys from the Borrow Bin, and visit the NBSTCC’s resident sea turtle Gigi.
Reserve your Navarre Beach vacation today.