Navarre Beach gets recycling ‘toy chest’

I’ll admit while our white powdery sands on Navarre Beach are a joy to play in, getting toys down to the beach can be a pain.

Especially if you are trying to fly. First you have to go to the trouble of actually finding them in stores, then get them packed along with all the other items you will need for relaxing.

And when you finally get ready to go down to the shore, the kids have inexplicably managed to lose them. Seriously, how?

Rather than purchase the shovels, buckets, frisbees and more, why not borrow them?

The Navarre Beach Lifeguards has launched the beach toy recycling box program this month, and it is already a huge success.

Beach Safety Director Austin Turnbull got the idea for the beachside boxes after seeing a similar program on a beach in Texas.

“There are not a lot of trash cans around. There are also a lot of leftover beach toys that are just getting thrown in the trash. They are still good and made of plastic,” Turnbull said. “I thought it would be good for the environment and just a good nature thing that needed to be done on our beach.”

Whether you are a visitor or just one of the neighbors, you can pull items from the bins to play in the sun on the beach. Use whatever items you would like. Then, you just put your beach toys back in the box at the end of the day, no worries over lugging them back to your condo.

“You pretty much have a toy chest of beach toys here at the beach available to them,” Turnbull said.

The boxes are constructed out of recycled PVC board, which stands up to the wear and tear of the beach climate. The local lifeguards and firefighters constructed and initially stocked the boxes. They bear the logos of the Navarre Beach Lifeguard program, Navarre Beach Fire Rescue and Santa Rosa County, which helped fund the project.

The boxes have been pre-stocked with noodles, shovels, buckets, frisbees and sandcastle-making items. The boxes are self-sustaining with discarded and donated toys collected off the beach.

The first box was placed at the foot of the walkover closest to the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier alongside the wheelchair mobi mat. A total of six bins are being placed along the length of the beach near the edge of the dune line close to designated walkovers.

The boxes complement a similar program created at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center where visitors can borrow beach toys from the center’s Borrow Bin of plastic toys collected during beach cleanups.

These new boxes will be located directly on the beach, providing easier access.

I love this concept not only because it eliminates a lot of the hassle but because it serves an important conservation goal, keeping our beaches beautiful for future generations to enjoy.

The boxes help keep items from impacting wildlife overnight, and it conforms with the beach’s Leave No Trace Ordinance, which prohibits any items being left on the beach after sundown.

Plastic toys can pose a hazard to sea turtle hatchlings attempting to make their way to the water by creating obstacles the tiny turtles must navigate around.

Plastics washed out into the Gulf of Mexico are also hazardous to wildlife. Because plastics last indefinitely in the water, they typically get broken down into smaller pieces referred to as microplastics.

These microplastics can become the size of sesame seeds or even smaller. Fish and other sea life then consume these plastics, unaware they are not food. This can cause marine life to accidentally starve themselves.

By reusing these toys, we can reduce the impacts of plastic on our beach while still getting to have our fun day in the sun! Come check the boxes out at