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Trash to Treasure: Hawaii Company Uses Ocean Waste to Create Jewelry

October 5, 2017

Nurdle in the RoughThree years ago Kat Crabill took a drive that would forever change her life. She visited Kamilo Beach on the southeast coast of the island of Hawai’i, an area that collects a huge amount of trash due to the movement of currents. It was there, while watching plastic waste wash ashore, that Crabill thought about repurposing the large plastic pieces and nurdles, small nuggets of plastic, into true gems. A top ocean plastic polluter, nurdles wash on shore in great numbers, so Crabill had plenty of material to work with. That’s when her company, Nurdle in the Rough, was born.

A trained jeweler, Crabill set out to convert this ugly plastic pollution into something beautiful, and to inspire her customers who want to take a stand against ocean waste. “They tell me that they’re inspired to clean up where they are, or to use less plastic in their daily life. Plastic is a really pervasive material that’s really hard to avoid, so I like to inspire people to think about it a little bit more and to be more aware of the decisions they make every day to avoid plastic, because every bit makes a difference,” Crabill said.

In addition to inspiring her customers, Crabill believes in supporting causes and companies that share her values. She donates 10 percent of her profits to the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a local nonprofit that has removed over 400,000 pounds of ocean plastic from Hawaii’s coastlines over the past 20 years. She is also proud to work with FedEx based on the company’s sustainability efforts. “FedEx really is in line with my business mission and always working towards being more environmentally friendly and reducing emissions. It feels good to use a service and work with a company that is making big changes for the environment.“

Nurdle in the Rough Founder Kat Crabill
Nurdle in the Rough Founder Kat Crabill
Nurdle in the Rough Founder Kat Crabill
Nurdle in the Rough Founder Kat Crabill
Nurdle in the Rough Founder Kat Crabill


    Shannon says:

    I enjoyed the very nice blog post. In addition to creating lovely jewellery and cleaning up so much debris, Kat is a wonderful teacher!

    Karen says:

    I’m so happy to see your studio and work out for everyone

    Anonymous says:

    We need more people that care about our environment and turn waste into products that have a purpose and in addition inspire creativity.

    Andrea Klosowski says:

    Very Innovative, Sustainable and Impactful. Repurposed items are a growing Market and Industry right now! Love this article.

    Lauren Kessler says:

    What a wonderful idea. I’m inspired too.

    Jennifer Grazier says:

    Love to see this artist has found a way to turn something that has been tossed aside and created something beautiful from it. A positive message for us all!

    Edith Gonzalez says:

    As I saw the photos and read the story I was amazed by your work and sadden by so much trash that accumulates. Kat Crabill , Your thoughts to help the environment is great(THANK YOU); and your jewelry designs are BEAUTIFUL!
    Love the article!

    Sierra Wilde says:

    Hawaii used to be my home, so happy to see how someone is conserving the beauty and giving back to the community. Kudos for you!!!

    Kim says:

    This was a wonderful article to read! beautiful work & great to see that people care for our oceans & world!

    Theresa Rosenbetger says:

    Great talented

    CArol says:

    This is so fantastic to repurpose trash into something both beautiful and useful, and at the same time take better of our environment!

    Carol says:

    What a fantastic service — to take trash that has polluted the pristine coastline of Hawaii and turn that trash into something beautiful and useful again, while at the same time taking care of our environment!

    Tyrone S. says:

    Very good vision for a business/service!!!

    Melissa L. says:

    Hana Hou Kate Crabill!

    Margie Becknell says:

    I love how your reusing ocean waste . I’m a Jewelry Metal Smith on Etsy . I use things from nature like Real Acorn Tops made into Earrings and Necklaces . I also make Leaf Necklaces using dried leaves, annealed metal and my Rolling Mill . I use old clock parts and recycle some metals . I love that your whole business is made around recycled materials .

    Maira Ortiz says:

    I love what Kat Cabrill is doing. I live in the city of Yonkers, New York in an apartment building. I would also like to start a business using recycled materials, but my first major concern is learning how to sanitize the materials so that they do not pose a health risk, and also if there are any legal regulations, standards, or approvals for these types of businesses.
    Can anybody point me in the right direction?

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