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Trees, land, water: How our employees give back to our planet

Read Time: 4 minutes

June 04, 2024


Trees are powerful. In a single year, 100 mature trees alone can remove the equivalent of 50 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

Wonder what over 2.1 million more trees could do for our environment? Look no further than Living Lands & Waters

Since 1998, the environmental organization has worked to plant an estimated 150,000 native hardwood trees across the Mississippi River watershed in the U.S. each year. Living Lands & Waters also aims to collect 500,000 pounds of trash per year from U.S. riverways and hosts education programs for students.

For the past 25 years, Cargill — and our employee volunteers — have helped Living Lands & Waters achieve those goals. 

“We have been so fortunate to have Cargill’s support since 1999!” says Chad Pregracke, Living Lands & Waters president and founder. “In that time, we have removed over 13 million pounds of garbage from 25 rivers in 21 states, planted and distributed 2.1 million native hardwood trees across the country and provided free workshops to over 27,000 students. That wouldn’t have been possible without the support of thousands of Cargill employees and their families.”

 A large group of people surrounded by trees smile next to dozens of bags of recently removed trash. Over the past 25 years, Cargill volunteers have partnered with Living Lands & Water to remove over 13 million pounds of trash from rivers in the U.S.

Our partnership with Living Lands & Water is just one example of the many partners Cargill employees can volunteer with to bring our sustainability priorities to life. These include a focus on climate, land, water and people.

"I'm proud of the work our global teams are doing every day to help the planet thrive,” says Pilar Cruz, Cargill's chief sustainability officer. “Through our Cargill Cares Councils, our colleagues around the world are volunteering their time and energy to initiatives like planting trees and community clean-ups. Working closely with our global partners, we're committed to nourishing the world in a sustainable way."

In celebration of Earth Day (April 22) and World Environment Day (June 5), colleagues around the world came together for community and joined their local Cargill Cares Council — employee-led groups that work to make a positive impact where we live and work — to help protect the planet. 

Here are a few of their stories.


Keeping our communities clean

A large group of people with Vietnam flags pose next to hundreds of trash bags. More than 60 Cargill employees and their families, along with the Xanh Vietnam network of volunteers, took to the streets of Vietnam to clean up their communities. 

For the second year in a row, Cargill colleagues in Vietnam partnered with local organization Xanh Vietnam for an Earth Day clean-a-thon. 

More than 60 Cargill employees and their families picked up and classified trash from the streets of Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh, the two largest cities in the country. 

Together, they collected over 600 trash bags — around eight metric tons of mostly single-use plastic. All those bags were taken to appropriate treatment facilities. 


Planting seeds, trees and hope

A group of employees holds vegetable seedlings produced inside a greenhouse. In Guatemala and Honduras, volunteers are planting trees and harvesting food for neighbors in need. 

In Guatemala, more than 35 Cargill volunteers sowed and produced seedlings that will benefit more than 100 families. 

Colleagues joined forces with non-profit organization CARE to plant 4,000 seeds for eight vegetable species: from lettuce and spinach to carrots and onions. The seedlings were produced inside greenhouses located within Cargill facilities. CARE then delivered the seedlings to community gardens in Chimaltenango, a region where Cargill operates.

In Honduras, volunteers are making the most of Cargill’s own spaces. Over 110 colleagues are taking part in planting, irrigating, cleaning and harvesting the land within two of our facilities. 

At our Pronorsa poultry plant, employees have planted 925 cedar trees, 925 pines, 200 teak and 235 San Juan trees as part of a reforestation initiative. At our Alcon feed plant, we’ve built a greenhouse with more than 35,000 combined seeds of cilantro, chili, tomato and cucumber. Those vegetables are available to families in the neighboring communities.


Restoring a legacy of water

 A group of employees pose for the camera at an office setting, with mountains in the background. Cargill and Global Water Challenge have partnered in Brazil, India, the U.S. and West Africa. This is the first project to launch in Europe, with the support of the Cargill Bulgaria team.

For centuries, long before they had running water in their homes, Bulgarians built village fountains in their communities. Known as “chesmas,” the fountains captured water from natural springs for public use and were particularly valuable in karst regions. Some chesma remain active, but many have been abandoned.

Embedded in Bulgarian history and folklore, chesmas are places for social gatherings, but also for nurturing cattle and local agriculture — vital for the livelihood of communities in rural areas in the country.

Today, our employees are volunteering their time to help restore six of these public water fountains — along with surrounding micro wetlands — in an effort to promote clean water awareness in local communities. Launched in April 2024, this is our first project in Europe with Global Water Challenge, a cross-sector coalition that works for community improvement and climate resilience-building activities. The project is being implemented by the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and is expected to conclude in 2025.

Our volunteers’ work is already helping 16 communities in Bulgaria, where they also planted 200 trees that can grow in wet soil to help mitigate flood risks. Additionally, our Bulgarian colleagues will hold clean water awareness events and train local members of the community to become “guardians of the fountains,” committed to the conservation of the chesmas.

Through these integrated activities, the project is building climate change resilience for local communities and addressing water security challenges in critical watersheds of Sofia and Varna. 


See our volunteers in action around the world

Ten Cargill employees and their families in Shanghai Gongqing Forest Park, China, take part in activities surrounding the area’s wetlands. 

Over 1,000 Cargill volunteers in India helped revitalize more than 1,000 blackboards across 99 government-aided schools as part of Akshaya Patra’s school painting carnival. 

Cargill’s Canada colleagues in Burlington, Ontario, picked up trash from the areas surrounding the local plant. 

Volunteers from Minneapolis, Minnesota (U.S.), recently helped plant more than 2,000 seedlings at a nearby park.

Volunteers worked on the revitalization of a local elementary school in Porto Velho, Brazil.


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