By Susan Hill Smith for Island Eye News
Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew and the City of Isle of Palms have introduced a playful solution to coastal pollution by adding an official “No Toys Left Behind Bin” at Front Beach. They encourage anyone who finds forgotten toys on the beach to add them to the bin so they can be shared and re-used by more families – with an expectation that they won’t be left behind on the beach again.
South Carolina Aquarium Conservation Programs Manager Kelly Thorvalson applauded the addition.
“Like all plastic debris, plastic toys left on the beach can get washed into the ocean and become a threat to marine life,” said Thorvalson, whose team supports Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew and other similar conservation groups across the state. “They cause problems if ingested by animals, leach harmful chemicals into the ocean, and break down into microplastics which are being consumed by zooplankton, tiny organisms that are the basis of the marine food chain.”
During 2021, IOP Cleanup Crew’s volunteers – along with other individuals and groups – collectively picked up more than 1,200 toys from the island’s beach, which they documented with the South Carolina Aquarium’s Litter-Free Digital Journal.
The new No Toys Left Behind Bin is located in a nook alongside a popular beach access in the 1100 block of Ocean Boulevard, between the outdoor showers and the building with murals celebrating ocean life and the Isle of Palms. The city recently opened up the space to the public after landscaping it with trees donated by former Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll.
“The City is glad to see Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew use the space as a focal point for their litter sweeps and other conservation initiatives,” City Administrator Desiree Fragoso said. “The new toy bin is an excellent example of our collaboration and a fun addition to Front Beach as we all work together to keep the coast clean.”
The idea for the toy bin came from a similar effort at the Wild Dunes Resort and community beach. It is part of a trend that other coastal communities – including Folly Beach and Tybee Island, Ga. – have adopted as they grapple with an overwhelming number of forgotten beach toys that can quickly turn into litter and trash. The “Toy Story” movie characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear inspired the bin’s name.
The Firestone family on Isle of Palms provided the bin, which they repurposed from a shipping crate, and the sign was made with recycled materials by Zing Green Safety Products. Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew Co-founders Susan Hill Smith and Katrina Limbach created the rhyme for the toy bin sign, which Limbach designed:
No Toys Left Behind Bin
A home for forgotten beach toys
Please re-use and share
Anyone can add or adopt
If you clean up and show you care