Okay, it’s March and you’re full, fat and happy from all of the winter oyster roasts you hosted. Now, what to do with all of those shells?
Recycle them, of course!
The increasing popularity of backyard oyster roasts has contributed to a decrease in oyster populations. Recycled oyster shells can be replanted to provide a suitable home for new, juvenile oysters. In many places, there are lots of homeless oysters or larvae without shells. And decreasing populations doesn’t just affect oyster-feasting. It creates a huge problem for the underwater ecosystem. Oysters are “filter feeders”. They feed on algae and keep the water clean. Seriously, these guys are awesome. Not only are they delicious, but they are crucial to the balance of our ecosystems!
Each year, the state is forced to purchase more and more oyster shells out of state just to supplement shell stocks for planting and replanting oyster beds. That’s totally crazy when you think about it! If every shucked shell from every oyster roast was recycled, think of all of the sustainable and tasty, briny bivalves we could continue to enjoy – and for years to come!
There are oyster shell drop-off locations all over the Lowcountry! Click here to see the list of drop-off locations by county.
While you’re preparing your oyster shells for recycling, check out these quick tips straight from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources:
- Separate shell from trash. Shell mixed with trash is not suitable for recycling. Provide separate containers for shell and trash. Dump shells from bags or containers and leave only shells in the bins.
- Bring your shell to the nearest shell recycling center. Maps are provided below. If a center is not shown near you, please call 843-953-9397.
- Do not put live oysters in South Carolina waters. If the oysters you purchased were harvested outside South Carolina, it is illegal to place them in SC waters. Placing imported oysters in our waters can create environmental problems and may harm local oysters or other animals.
- Do not put freshly shucked oysters shell in SC waters. To avoid contamination, shell should be recycled to and properly quarantined for 6 months.
By recycling your shells, you will help restore and preserve our inshore marine habitats. That’s such a small act for such a big and important outcome.