Nonprofit seeks help transporting trash collected from McKellar Lake

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Volunteers removed more than 141,000 pounds of trash from McKellar Lake in just three weeks, but the Mississippi River is now so high that the nonprofit that did the cleanup needs more help.

Living Lands and Waters hosted an alternative Spring Break for hundreds of students over three weeks in March to pick up trash along three miles of McKellar Lake and part of the Wolf River.

“All of the plastic is just floating down the Mississippi, and then it collects in McKellar, and it has no way of getting out,” said Leah Cafarelli with Living Lands and Waters. “And it’s coming through storm water runoff drains, so a lot of the street garbage is also running off here.”

The mountains of bottles, barrels, tires and trash are collected on a garbage barge and normally taken to St. Louis where the nonprofit hosts a big sorting event, so everything is properly recycled. But with the river so high, they have to instead load the 141,000 pounds of trash into semi-trucks and drive it to St. Louis.

The nonprofits picked up 50,000 pounds worth of just water bottles or other similar items.

“This (water bottles) is the most single use plastic we see in our travels really,” Cafarelli said.

Because of the amount of trash collected, they need volunteers next week to help with the lifting and moving trash into the semis.

“We’re just going to human garbage chain it into the semis, so it won’t be a lot of work,” Cafarelli said.

Cafarelli said it’s not a lot of work, and it’s to help a good cause.

“At the end of the day you feel good,” she said.

The loading will be May 14 on President’s Island in Memphis. The event will go from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and volunteers can sign up for a half day or a full day.

Life jackets, gloves and a complimentary lunch will be provided. For more information, go to Living Lands and Waters Facebook page.

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