Plastic Ocean Project, Inc. (POP) has teamed up with North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) and together is sponsoring the planting of 1 tree for every 25 lbs. of trash we remove from the North Carolina 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, and uptake CO2, among our greatest defense against climate change. Trees4Trash addresses two major environmental issues ocean debris and climate change.
The goal of the activity is to remove mass quantities of debris in 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 have monthly cleanups, especially in remote areas badly impacted by hurricanes. We enlist volunteers from elementary schools to university students, with POP volunteers of all ages to come out for 3 hour cleanups in and around North Carolina. We often 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. Volunteers fill large reusable plastic bags donated by Ocean Conservancy. 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 trailered out to the landfill.
We will be planting at various locations in and around North Carolina, including parks that lost trees from storms. That’s just a start. We work with the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees to help plant trees and the New Hanover County Arboretum to help select native trees. Cape Fear Academy and the New Hanover Waste Management Habitat Conservation and Restoration Stewardship Program has set aside locations for us to plant, and we will continue to add additional locations. The trees are purchased from the NC Forest Service and supported by donations to Plastic Ocean Project and NC Wildlife Federation.
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 man-made debris and increasing the tree canopy across our country.