Chattanooga’s ‘Conservation Kid’ Has Removed 14k Pounds of Trash, 1.5 Tons of Aluminum from Tennessee River

In the past five years, 12-year-old Cash Daniels has removed 14,000 pounds of trash and recycled 1.5 tons of aluminum from the Tennessee River, started a nonprofit and written a children's book.

Five years ago, seven-year-old Cash Daniels learned how polluted the Tennessee River was, and just how many people depended on the water to live. He began hosting river clean-ups, and, in just four years, has removed 14,000 pounds of trash and recycled 1.5 tons of aluminum from the area. 

The now-12-year-old uses money he raises to make monofilament bins that are placed along the river. According to his website, there are now 17 bins out. 

From a young age, Cash was always very fascinated with marine life in his local river. He talked to his parents about picking up trash and gathered additional volunteers by contacting local news outlets and creating an Instagram page.

Cash now runs a recycling program with local businesses to keep aluminum cans out of landfills and support river conservation. Cash also wrote a children’s book about river pollution, which he reads to kids at school to “share how important our planet is,” he said.

In June, Cash was selected as one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2021 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. He earned the title of National Honoree and secured a $5,000 grant to go to a nonprofit of his choice.

“If you have an idea, and don’t know where to start or how to find it, look in the trash, who knows, you may find an idea? And you can help the planet too!” says Cash.

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