Opinion

May 15, 2013

Liz Swafford: Meet Pearl the Peacock

Meet Pearl, a sassy bird with a love for reusing and recycling everything in sight. Don’t let her see that old string of pearls your the jewelry box ready to be thrown out.

“Thrown out? No way! Step away from the trash can!” Pearl shouts, staring you down with her deep black eyes. “Just clean it up, give it a shine, fix the clasp, and ta-da!” In just a few minutes you have an upcycled yet fancy string of pearls ready to wear just like Pearl.

Pearl the Peacock is one of several new peacock statues livening up downtown Dalton thanks to an initiative called Peacocks on Parade organized by the Downtown Dalton Development Authority. This statue was sponsored by the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority and was designed by volunteers from Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful. The official title of the piece is “Recycle and Reuse with Pearl.”

It’s intended to inspire visitors to think twice about the things they throw away and make better choices when they go to dispose of even small things such as cigarette butts. You can visit Pearl downtown at any time. She is stationed outdoors in front of the Dalton Freight Depot just off of Morris Street. She has a perfect view of the Crescent Train Car and the passing trains. And, she’s always smiling ready for a group photo.

When you go to see the upcycled statue, especially the first time, look at it from a distance. Pearl looks just like a colorful peacock. But, as you get closer things start to change. Yes, that’s an actual string of pearls on her neck; it’s not painted on. And, yes, actually, those are soda can tabs on her chest. Volunteers from Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful worked on her for months incorporating as many upcycled features as possible reusing all kinds of disposable and unwanted items.

Pearl teaches us that what we may see as trash can be reworked into something beautiful, useful, even something that can make a statement. I don’t want to take away from the fun experience of a visitor recognizing the everyday items used on the statue. Instead of telling you what a particular feather or foot is made with, I’ll share a short list of only some of the items used to create this colorful work of art.

Pearl the upcycled peacock statue was put together with a creative combination of plastic bottle caps from water bottles, soda bottles, milk jugs and other drink containers; plastic lids from small containers for butter and peanuts; strings of decorative Christmas beads and Mardi Gras beads; aluminum beverage can tabs, expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) from coffee cups, egg cartons and meat trays; metal lids from bi-metal food cans; old costume jewelry; a dog leash; a pair of spa flip-flops; and cigarette butts.

You’ll be hearing more about Pearl this summer, and all the great volunteers and students that contributed to making her look absolutely fabulous. For now, you really should stop by and give her a visit. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and hopefully inspired to reuse and recycle more. If you take pictures with her, please share them on facebook.com/keepdaltonwhitfieldbeautiful.

Liz Swafford is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have questions about recycling in Whitfield County? Call (706) 278-5001 or email lswafford@dwswa.org

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