Phytoremediating Doritos Bags and Soda Cans
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.
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. : )