In October 2018, we decided to plant a tree for every bamboo toothbrush sold through our site to help offset our emissions. But we knew it wasn't enough, and wanted to do even more to help tackle the climate emergency. So, on the International Day of Forests 2019, (March 21st), we launched our ‘buy-one, plant-one’ initiative - so any time you buy any of our products through our website, we plant a tree through our partnership with TreeEra.
Obviously, we all know trees are good for the planet and help prevent climate change (thanks to their carbon dioxide-absorbing properties) but, even at Atlas & Ortus, we didn’t understand the true potential of tree planting, so we decided to do some research...
Last month, research findings released by Swiss university ETH Zürich show that planting billions of trees across the planet could be the most powerful and cost-effective way of addressing the climate crisis. The, er, root cause of the crisis is the increasing amounts of climate-warming ‘greenhouse gases’ in the atmosphere from fossil fuel-burning and forest destruction. In other words, we’re racking up CO2 levels at the same time as chopping down the trees (which are effectively CO2 ‘sponges’) that help balance this. In fact, half of the trees which were around before the rise of human civilisation have now been cut down.
This research is the first time a quantitative evaluation of the impact of forest restoration has been done. And the results are surprising… More than being just the most ‘aesthetic’ option, a mass tree-planting strategy would also be cheaper and more effective than so-called ‘negative emissions technologies’, such as ‘bioenergy with carbon capture and storage’ (which involves burning trees to create energy, and then burying the CO2 by-product).
The thing with tree-planting, however, is that we have to act fast. This is because the impact of forest restoration won’t come into its own for 50-100 years from planting - it’s the ultimate long-game! The aim is to remove 200 billion tonnes of carbon which, we agree, sounds like a lot. However, there are multiple ways you can get involved straightaway, such as by growing trees in your own garden or school, donating to forest restoration projects or avoiding buying products from companies that contribute to deforestation.
But what about the cost? Like anything, there is cost to planting (is now the time to say money doesn’t grow on trees?). Luckily, it’s relatively cheap - and when done efficiently and at scale, and there are more incentives for planting trees than just halting climate change. There are well-documented human health benefits to cohabiting with trees (from filtering pollution from the air to having calming effects) and they provide habitats for all kinds of wildlife. The case for tree-planting is very strong and multifaceted.
Maybe you’re thinking ‘where are all these trees going to fit?’. Well, it turns out that there is enough suitable land (11% of the globe) to plant a whopping 1.2 trillion trees, which would sequester two-thirds of human-generated carbon emissions in the next 100 years - without encroaching on farmland. Of course, in practice, a mass planting programme would need to take other things into account like avoiding monoculture forests (which can have a negative impact on ecosystems) and respecting local and indigenous people’s environments. But the potential is really exciting.
So, we're really proud to be supporting tree planting as a solution to the climate crisis - and you are, too, every time you make an order from our site. With this new research, the seed has been planted; we just hope that the world takes notice so this idea can grow and flourish.You can now add as many extra trees as you like to your Atlas & Ortus order for just £1 a tree. Add a tree to your order here.
Lydia Paris is a London based writer and content marketing consultant. Get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org
© Lydia Paris and Atlas & Ortus, 2019