In July, a study led by Dr Thomas Crowther of ETH Zurich, used satellite mapping to assess how much treeless land was kicking around the planet. The findings revealed that Earth has space for some 500 billion trees which, if planted, would remove two-thirds of all human-caused carbon emissions produced since the industrial revolution.
When we spoke to Crowther following the publication of the study, he expressed hope that his findings would ‘inspire more government support’, but cautioned that he ‘doesn’t think that’s what’s going to make the difference. I really think it’s going to be industry and the general public donating.’
One new report analysing the progress of the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), an organisation made up of governments, multinational companies, civil society and indigenous peoples who are driven by an ambition to halve deforestation rates by 2020 and eradicate it entriely by 2030, found that quite the opposite is happening. The report, led by Charlotte Streck, co-founder and director of Climate Focus, found that deforestation is actually increasing globally rather than decreasing. The current impact of this increase is that the global annual carbon emissions resulting solely from deforestation are now equivalent to the total amount of greenhouse gases produced by the EU.
As Crowther notes above, the emphasis is going to be on public and corporate action to, if not lead the push back, to at least influence overall trends. One way to achieve this is by supporting brands and donation schemes that pledge to help reforestation measures, either directly or by committing to fund and support tree-planting schemes.The logic is simple: if consumers support schemes and brands that contribute to reforestation and afforestation programs, then this will set a much-needed precedent.
To that end, we’ve rounded-up a selection of such initiatives that might help get the wheels of progress rolling in the right direction. As Crowther notes: ‘the critical thing is that we need to get going yesterday.’
Ecosia – Search Engine
Ever wondered what a world without Google looks like? Well, pick your search engine right and it could be a much greener one. Ecosia is a search engine much like Google, Bing or any other, only with a hugely important difference. The search ads on Ecosia generate its revenue, and the profit made from those ads goes towards planting trees. All you need to do is use it for your web-based searching needs. What’s more, accessing Ecosia is equally simple. You can use a Chrome extension, so your search bar will use it by default rather than Google (you can still retain all of the other Google services). Or you can download the app for your smartphone on both the Play Store and the App Store. Sure, ‘Ecosia it’ doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well as ‘Google it’, but when we have 500 billion trees to be planting, the trade-off is worth it. So far, Ecosia has planted over 67 million trees and claims to have eight million active users.
Forest: Stay Focused – Concentration App
Providing a chance to complete your to-do lists and plant trees at the same time, Forest: Stay Focused is a concentration app in which you set a timer, press go (planting the seed) and then don’t leave the app until the timer is over. Once complete your ‘tree’ will have grown and you can close the app. The snag is that if you leave the app to check messages or browse social media, for example, your tree will ‘die’. You can check your ‘forest’ as it grows and there’s functionality to add friends. Although the free version is designed for focusing and being present in the moment, it doesn’t plant actual trees. To plant the real green machines you need to purchase the app’s premium version for £1.79, which allows you to plant up to five real trees in partnership with Trees For The Future. At the time of writing, Forest: Stay Focused has led to the planting of over 500,000 trees.
Sapling Spirits – Vodka
On a mission to turn the world’s spirit industry into a force for good, Sapling Spirits will plant one tree for every bottle of its vodka you purchase. Produced in London, Sapling Spirits uses 100 per cent British-grown wheat and distils it four times for quality, leaving a natural sweetness to its flavour. Working in partnership with Trees For Cities, Food And Forest and High Atlas Foundation, 3,500 trees have been planted around the world since its launch in November 2018.
St Ives Liquor – Gin
Making the world greener one sip at a time, St Ives Liquor Co will plant one tree for every bottle of its gin you purchase which bears the hashtag #Gandtree. The gin manufacturer’s partnership with Rising Forests only began in July this year, but already 5,000 trees have been planted. St Ives also strives to use biodegradable and recycled materials, as well as sourcing ingredients as locally as possible, to ensure each bottle can be made with the environment in mind.
Yorkshire Tea – Tea
In an effort to plant one million trees by 2020, Yorkshire Tea has partnered with the Woodland Trust to send tree-planting packs to schools all over the UK, where 500,000 of its trees will grow, helping engage younger generations with nature and looking after the environment. So far, 2,700 schools have received the planting packs, allowing tens of thousands of school children access to nature. The remaining 500,000 trees will be planted across Kenya in association with tea farmers.
Tentree – Clothing
With the fashion industry producing over 80 billion garments a year, there’s a sincere onus on clothing brands to start making a dedicated change for the better of the planet. Tentree’s mission is to be one of those brands. For every item purchased, it pledges to plant an unambiguous ten trees. Its range covers fashion for men and women, everyday accessories such as bags, wallets, towels and even a line of goods for dogs. As well as planting trees, Tentree is committed to using sustainably sourced materials and has a goal of planting one billion trees by 2030. Its partnerships span the globe, and with over 30 million trees planted thus far, numerous countries are feeling the benefits of sustainable fashion. Tentree works with Eden Reforestation Projects, Trees For The Future, Plant With Purpose, Parks Canada, The Regreening Program, One Tree Planted and Luc Forsyth.
Timberland – Clothing
Plant The Change is a new campaign launched by Timberland earlier this year. It works with a huge array of partners in an effort to plant no fewer than 50 million trees by 2025. While there is no direct correlation between how many items you purchase and trees planted, supporting this campaign will be indicative of spending patterns pertaining to tree-planting initiatives. To find out more about the campaign and its partners, check out the Plant The Change site.
WeWOOD – Watches
Watches are invaluable and incredibly helpful devices. But imagine if every purchase helped to buy the planet more time, too. WeWOOD’s watches are made from reclaimed or recycled wood and for every watch you buy, the company will plants one tree in partnership with Trees For The Future. At this time, WeWOOD has planted over 600,000 trees with a target of reaching one million by 2020. Unfortunately, WeWOOD doesn’t ship to the UK, however, that’s not to detract from its efforts and tree-planting success.
Will & Bear – Hats
Making hats from 100 per cent natural materials, having sustainability at heart and ensuring good factory conditions for its workers in Inner Mongolia, China and Sri Lanka, already makes Will & Bear an ethically-friendly choice for headwear. However, for every hat sold, the milliner pledges to plant ten trees in association with Trees For The Future. With this head-smart thinking, Will & Bear has planted 116 hectares of trees so far.
Alaska Airlines – Airline
Flying has become a much-debated topic of late with its contribution to carbon emissions. So much so that people in Sweden have coined a new term for flying guilt, ‘Flygskam’, which literally translates as ‘flying shame’. Nonetheless, Alaska Airlines can at least be commended for its newest initiative to help mitigate, albeit slightly, the impact air travel has on the environment. On 12 September, the airline launched its #FillBeforeYouFly campaign, which encourages passengers to board with their own filled water bottles, in an effort to reduce plastic waste. However, it extends this campaign to the realm of tree-planting thanks to its partnership with Bonneville Environment Foundation, which will plant a tree every time a passenger uploads a picture to social media of their refillable container and uses the hashtag #FillBeforeYouFly.
One Tree Planted – NGO
Of course, to make a difference in the world you don’t have to buy new things. In fact, moving away from a consumer-market mentality will be pivotal in the fight against the climate crisis. One Tree Planted is an NGO whose model is simply to exchange one dollar for one tree. You can choose to support different projects from around the world, helping to plant trees in Latin America, North America, Africa and Asia. As the organisation grows, so too does its reach. By 2018 it had planted 1.8 million trees, and to date that number has reached four million. It vets its partners for quality and its saplings have a survival rate of 80-90 per cent. You can join regular donation schemes, such as planting a tree a day, meaning that for less than the price of a coffee, each and every day you can plant a tree to help the planet.
Treevotion – Sustainable Bracelets
If subtle fashion and planting trees are your vibe, then Treevotion is possibly the way forward for you. By purchasing one of Treevotion’s bracelets, you can plant at least two trees at one of several locations around the world. Some bracelets cost more, but in exchange for the added expense, more trees are planted. There’s even the option to forego the wristwear and just pay to plant trees, for which you will be sent an online certificate. The options go from two trees all the way up to 200! Treevotion’s mission is to ultimately plant one billion trees around the world.
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