One Perfect Day with Surfer's Healing

One Perfect Day with Surfer's Healing

I do not surf.

I do not even swim in the ocean - there are SHARKS in there.

So somewhat naturally, Surfer’s Healing wasn’t exactly on my radar for this week. 

Aaaand then my water-sport-loving boyfriend bounced through the door yelling, “Babe! Guess what! I signed you up to photograph Surfer’s Healing!” 

Here’s what happened…

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Ocean Plastic: The Myth of the Pristine Beach

Ocean Plastic: The Myth of the Pristine Beach

I've done a lot of things this year. Weird fish nibbled my toes in Mexico, I swam in a Costa Rican waterfall, and gave myself an epic wedgie jumping into a cenote outside of Playa del Carmen. 

I would do them all again, save the wedgie.

These experiences, along with my daily battle with litter in my neighborhood, left me with some thoughts I need to share.

I'm sorry for the serious post, but I hope you'll read it anyway. 

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For the Shell of It: 20 Charleston Restaurants That Recycle Oyster Shell

For the Shell of It: 20 Charleston Restaurants That Recycle Oyster Shell

Hey, Charleston! Did you know some of your favorite oyster bars are going the extra mile to recycle their oyster shells and protect our waterways?

Take a moment to say thank you! 

Our oyster reefs are a natural breakwater protecting Charleston's shores against storms and erosion, but old oyster shells are an essential part of the growth cycle of young, free-swimming oysters. 

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Grit & Grace Designer Rachel Gordon: Giving a Damn About Oysters

Grit & Grace Designer Rachel Gordon: Giving a Damn About Oysters

It takes a special sort of spunky brunette to spend their Saturday nights hauling around nasty, stinking oyster shells.

But Rachel Gordon gives a damn about oyster shells, and we should too.

Today, we're taking a closer look at what it takes to build a sustainable business, and why oyster shell recycling is so important.

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Charleston Oyster Farm: Dive into Sustainable Seafood

Charleston Oyster Farm: Dive into Sustainable Seafood

Did you know eating locally farmed oysters can actually improve the environment?

Sign me up! Raw, steamed, fried, or in a shooter, I will do my duty to save our shores. 

The other day I was lucky enough to check out Charleston Oyster Farm, and Q&A them about what it means to raise sustainable seafood. Check it out! 

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Grit and Grace: Talking Oysters with Rachel Gordon

When you first meet Rachel Gordon, she doesn't strike you as the sort to be knee deep in buckets of smelly old oyster shells.  However, looks can be deceiving. 

Best known for her One Love clothing line, Rachel has long been a fixture on Charleston's fashion scene, and her stunning, ethereal gowns are regularly spotted on the pages of bridal magazines or Lowcountry catwalks.  

Grit and Grace oyster shell dish by Rachel Gordon

Grit and Grace oyster shell dish by Rachel Gordon

But there's so much more to Rachel than her incredible talents as a designer, and that's where Grit and Grace Studio comes into play. You may have seen beautifully painted oyster dishes and holiday ornaments popping up in Charleston's established boutiques, gift shops, and spas lately. They're gorgeous and simple, hard to miss, and even harder to forget.

The varied and ruffled, irregular shape of the sun-bleached oysters is perfectly accentuated by gold lacquer, and you could not ask for a prettier salt, jewelry, or soap dish, although I keep my air plants in mine! 

Grit and Grace by Rachel Gordon 

Grit and Grace by Rachel Gordon 

"Grit and Grace was born from my mom's mantra about getting through the peaks and valleys of life," Rachel says. "When I decided to go for it with this concept I couldn’t think of a more perfect name for these little gifts. The oyster dishes and ornaments are naturally beautiful but they are also supposed to be little reminder to live life to the fullest, and with grit and grace in the good and challenging times."

Grit and Grace oyster shell ornament

Grit and Grace oyster shell ornament

But what do Grit and Grace and gold oyster shell gifts have to do with saving the planet? 

A lot. There is a critical oyster shell shortage in South Carolina. 

I had no idea there even was a such thing as an oyster shell shortage prior to talking with Rachel at a dinner party. Why is there a shortage? And why is that so bad?

Grit and Grace oyster shell planters 

Grit and Grace oyster shell planters 

Think about how many oyster bars have popped up around Charleston in the last several years, and then think about how many other places have oysters on the menu, and think about how many people and organizations host oyster roasts around the Lowcountry. That's a lot of oysters, right? Well, unfortunately a lot of those oyster shells end up in the landfill instead of back in the water, where they will sit forever, failing to biodegrade alongside normal household garbage instead of going back into our ecosystem. While the will to recycle is usually there, our demand for oysters as consumers has outstripped the current availability of oyster shell recycling pick ups. 

Grit and Grace oyster shell gifts by Rachel Gordon

Grit and Grace oyster shell gifts by Rachel Gordon

Here's why that's bad, aside from generating massive quantities of unnecessary waste. Oyster reefs help prevent erosion and provide a natural breakwater against waves and storms for our shorelines, and they're also a habitat for other marine animals. Additionally, oyster spat (juvenile oysters) like to attach to other oyster shells, and oysters are superheroes when it comes to filtering water. A single adult oyster can filter up to 2.5 gallons of water PER HOUR, meaning up to 60 gallons per day. 

Rachel Gordon at work in the Grit and Grace Studio

Rachel Gordon at work in the Grit and Grace Studio

And this is how fashion maven Rachel Gordon wound up knee deep in buckets of stinky, slimy old oysters from some of Charleston's hottest restaurants. The One Love designer has partnered with some local area restaurants to courier their discarded shells to the DNR drop off sites, which is a win for everyone involved, from Grit and Grace, to the local restaurants, to SCDNR. 

Grit and Grace oyster shell dish 

Grit and Grace oyster shell dish 

"It’s been a true joy working on this project and making naturally beautiful dishes and ornaments out of oyster shells. However, I quickly realized that if I was going to be taking oyster shells from the ecosystem that I would need to work hard to grow this company in a way that was environmentally sustainable," Rachel explains. "From day one I decided that for every oyster shell Grit and Grace sold the company would recycle 10 shells to DNR oyster recycling program! The partnership that I have created with DNR and the volunteer work that we have started to do has been the most rewarding part of this project."

And so, the sight of one of our city's most accomplished clothing designers schlepping giant, gritty buckets of ripe oyster shells is about to be come a lot more common, based on the blossoming success of Grit and Grace.

Grit and Grace oyster shell dish

Grit and Grace oyster shell dish

A special thank you to Rachel Gordon and Grit and Grace for spreading love, awareness, and showing me the power of one individual to make a difference.