Phytoremediating Doritos Bags and Soda Cans

April 23, 2009 at 5:00 am 2 comments

In addition to recycling baldcypress trees, nature can also clean up contaminants, preventing them from seeping into the water table. The process is called “phytoremediation“. Here in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the U.S. Coast Guard base is using willow and poplar trees to clean up an old fuel farm site.

Phytoremediation at Work in Elizabeth City, North Carolina
(Photo by Ryan Somma)

On an evening walk at Camden Causeway Park a few weeks ago, I saw another example of Elizabeth City trees participating in a cleanup effort. From what I can tell in my five months here, the Camden Causeway Park tends to be especially prone to litter. Just as trees absorb metal blazes, fences and even gravestones, the trees at Camden Causeway Park aren’t deterred by the garbage they encounter on the swamp floor. As the trees grow, they simply trap the debris in their network of roots.

It is the fallen individuals that expose the trees as trash collectors (not to mention how extensive the litter is). With their roots exposed, you can see all the items they picked up through the years. Beer cans, soda bottles, honey bun wrappers, potato chip bags, you name it.

Camden Causeway Park - Trash Collector
More Garbage than a Backpacking Trip!

Through phytoremediation, trees can clean up some pretty dangerous metals and chemicals.

Apparently, they can tackle American junk food packages as well. : )

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Entry filed under: Elizabeth City, Nature, phytoremediation, trees, Uncategorized. Tags: .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ideonexus  |  April 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    It’s interesting/sad to think that, thousands of years after we are gone, those plastics will continue to cycle through the world’s ecosystems.

  • 2. Camden Causeway Park « TGAW  |  July 15, 2009 at 5:04 am

    [...] trees do what they can to clean up, but the Causeway Park does tend to be litter prone. That said, I’ve found it to be a great [...]


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