On Saturday, February 12th, over a dozen people came out to the Third Fork Creek Trail in Durham to install the first Trash Trout in the Haw River watershed. The Trash Trout, a product of Asheville Greenworks, is a floating litter trap that will allow us to capture litter in Third Fork Creek before it moves along the creek and eventually in Jordan Lake. Several community members along Third Fork Creek have been picking up trash in this area for years, and this trap will not only make that process easier, but will raise awareness to the issue and bring in more interested volunteers.
The litter is not only unsightly, but it also poses risks to wildlife and their habitats. If you’ve walked along the American Tobacco Trail Greenway in Durham, you’ve likely seen the plastic bag debris, plastic bottles, and bits of Styrofoam tangled in the underbrush and woven into leaves and briars throughout the forest and stream bank. These habitats are critical for birds and small mammals, who continue to lose habitats due to urbanized expansion. This litter can also break down into microplastics, which can pass through drinking water filtration and get into our bodies through the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe.
This Trash Trout isn’t the solution to the problem of litter in our streams. With 920 miles of streams in our watershed, that kind of reactionary solution would not be sustainable. However, this Trash Trout is the first of what we hope to be several traps throughout the watershed. This trap is not only meant to capture litter, but to start a conversation about the issue of plastic pollution in our waterways. What would our streams look like if we had common sense policies to minimize single use plastics? How much litter could we prevent if businesses were incentivized to switch to compostable alternatives and skip the plastic bag? How many less bits of styrofoam would be scattered across a stream bank if our cities took steps to ban it like other states and municipalities have?
Haw River Assembly, along with 15 Waterkeepers across North Carolina, is working with Duke Law and Policy Clinic, North Carolina Public Interest Research Group, and other plastics policy advocates to propose legislation that would move North Carolina on a better path towards litter reduction.
Huge thanks to our sponsors: Frog Hollow Outdoors, Great Outdoor Provision Company, Joe Van Gogh Coffee Roasters, and Fillaree Soaps in Durham. Check out their websites to see how our missions align, and why we chose this group of businesses to partner with us on this work.