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She Sells Seashells by the Seashore

By Two Girls Go Green |
Here are a handful of ways humans reuse shells. What else would you add to this list?

Editor's note: when dealing with arts and crafts made of seashells, be sure to find out if they are collected in an environmentally and sustainable fashion.

Human reuses of seashells

1Image by the bridge

You probably collected them when you were a child strolling along a beach. Or put your ear up to them to hear the sounds of the ocean. Perhaps you’ve seen them randomly displaced around someone’s home. “They” are seashells from the seashore.

Just exactly what is a so-called seashell? The simplified version: A seashell is just the firm outer layer of a soft-bodied sea organism, such as a mollusk. Typically speaking, a little creature from the ocean, such as a sea snail will secrete calcium carbonate. As the animal grows, the calcium carbonate builds up and up forming a hard outer layer. Eventually the animal dies and what’s left? The shell.

Below is a handful of ways humans reuse shells. What else would you add to this list?

As seen in this photo below taken at the Governor’s Mansion in Williamsburg, Virginia, crushed seashells can be used to make gravel for sidewalks, pathways and driveways. (Photo from m4rpk)

Shells can be worn in a variety of ways including as earrings, necklaces, broaches, bracelets, belts and more. (Photo from elizabethcosby)

Seashells are the inspiration behind some very beautiful paintings, sculptures and crafts. (Photo from SandisShellscapes)

Countertops and Backsplashes
(Photo from

In Gardens and Potted Plants
Sometimes people use shells in gardens to add nutrients to the soil. Sometimes they are also put into pots simply to help retain water. Plus shells just look cool in landscaping. The photo snapped below was taken at one of my favorite places in Ann Arbor, Zingerman’s Roadhouse by Yelp user Michael U. That’s a lot of oysters! (Tip from Greenopolis blogger Sebrina Smith)

Odds and Ends Around the House
In lamps, clocks, photo frames and more, seashells can be found all over people’s home decor. (Photo from ArtOnTheHalfShell)

Things to Study, Collect and Admire
Take for example, "The Book of Shells" by M. G. Harasewych and Fabio Moretzsohn, which captures the science and beauty behind some of the most beautiful shells around the sea. To see a glimpse into the book, click here for a really neat slideshow on The New York Times. (Thanks for the tip Marian)

Where else have you seen imaginative uses of seashells?

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  • Elaine F. 5 years ago
    I will.