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Columbia artist turns trash into artwork

Many local artists use materials you might normally throw away -- like cups and bottle caps – to make unique and meaningful art.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Kirkland Smith is a Columbia artist who is giving items that might end up in a landfill a second life. “I do hope that when people look at my work, they will consider their consumer habits,” she says.

Smith says, “I made rules and one of the rules was to only use stuff that has been used before. I go to thrift stores, garage sales, I pick it up off the ground.” Which also helps the environment. Litter cleanup costs the U.S. more than an estimated $11.5 billion dollars each year. Keep the Midlands Beautiful is a local organization aimed at engaging, inspiring and educating people about recycling and beautification.

“A lot of things that we use once or just for a very short period and then we don’t want it anymore. And the reality is most of it is not recyclable so I thought that was a problem,” Smith tells.

Credit: Kirkland Smith

The production and disposal of consumer goods have a significant impact on the environment, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and other environmental problems. Artwork, like Kirkland’s, serves as a reminder of the importance of reducing waste and finding creative solutions to our environmental challenges.

Smith says, “I do hope that people will think when they’re throwing something away or when they’re going to use something. You know, if they’re only going to use it one time, I would love it if people would change their habits so that my materials are impossible to find.”

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