Plastic Ocean Project, Inc. will plant 1 hardwood tree for every 25 lbs. of trash we remove from the SE North Carolina coastal environment. Due to the increasing frequency of super storms, communities are losing their old growth trees at an alarming rate. These storms also compound the amount of manmade debris entering our rivers, waterways, and oceans. Trees help slow down the progression of storms inland, reducing the number of buildings destroyed. Furthermore, trees reduce carbon dioxide and are among our greatest defense against climate change. Trees4Trash addresses two major environmental issues.
- The goal of the activity is to remove mass quantities of debris in rural areas that have little chance of being picked up other than by wind and rain that wash it into watersheds that feed into the ocean. Quantifying the weight of the debris serves as an educational opportunity to express the sheer volume of debris in the environment. Committing to plant hundreds to thousands of trees will cast a wider net of participants who are passionate about trees, trash, and climate change. We removed over 3,000 lbs of debris with just 32 volunteers at our most recent cleanup. Many of them came out because they want to help remove debris for the sake of restoring the tree canopy lost during Hurricane Florence.
We have monthly cleanups, especially in remote areas badly impacted by Hurricane Florence. We enlist volunteers from elementary schools to university students and POP volunteers of all ages to come out for 3 hours to clean up areas along the Cape Fear River. We rent a 15-passenger van to reduce our carbon footprint getting to the site. We provide all cleanup materials and have volunteers bring trailers for trash removal. We have the volunteers fill large reusable plastic bags donated by AC Moore. Once filled, the volunteers bring the bags to the weigh station. The weight is recorded, any recyclables are separated, the debris is poured into large lawn garbage bags, and placed in the trailer. The debris is then hauled off to the dump. The quantity of debris recorded is then calculated into the number of trees, (1 tree for every 25 lbs. of trash). We will be reseeding 90 acres of property along the Cape Fear River that lost hundreds of seedling planted before the storm. They were washed away due to Hurricane Florence’s severe flooding. That’s just a start. Cape Fear Academy has also requested trees for planting, the New Hanover Waste Management Habitat Conservation and Restoration Stewardship Program has set aside a location for us to plant, and we will continue to add additional locations. The trees will be purchased from the NC Forest Service upon availability (less than $1 per tree).
One of the many outcomes is that Trees4Trash can be replicated anywhere. We hope to continue to build partnerships with this program and restore the environment by removing manmade debris and increasing the tree canopy across our country.