Weathered garbage

On the coast of Northern California is a spot called Glass Beach.

Laid out on the shore are swaths of colored pebbles, green and white and sometimes blue.

People dumped their garbage there for 20 years, referred to the spot as “The Dumps.” After the beach was closed against dumping, some tried to clean it up. Over decades, things that could decay were left to decay. Someone removed the metal and sold it as scrap.

But the glass remained.

A mess of broken bottles, windows, jars, plates, windshields. Over dozens of years, the waves tumbled the shards, grinding away the sharp edges and corners that cut. The fragments turned to sea glass—colored stones, weathered smooth and frosted by the ocean.

Now, visitors walk along that beach, run their hands through the colors, pick up the pieces and hold them to the light. Pieces of a former dump.


Look. Certain things happened. Some of them scrap, some of them rot. Clear those away. You may be surprised at the fragments of trash that (given time and weathering) have turned to treasure.