Save trees, save earth: While trees aren’t the only things that need saving for a flourishing planet, it’s certainly a good place to start. Trees are life giving, and they actually store carbon. Our rainforests have often been described as the lungs of our planet, and I can certainly see why. Trees don’t just absorb carbon, they also provide oxygen. One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. When a rainforest is burnt down to make way for cattle, palm oil, etc. the trees release all the carbon they’ve stored into the atmosphere. This only makes our climate crisis worse. The same goes for when we cut down trees in rural areas too, just on a smaller scale.
Trees in urban spaces are just as important as tropical rainforests. FYI, if you didn’t know the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20–50 percent in energy used for heating. Imagine the energy we can save in the summer, all thanks to trees! Sadly, many BIPOC and low-income communities don’t have access to many green spaces, let alone trees. That absolutely needs to change – because as summers get hotter due to climate change, these are the people that are more likely to suffer from heat stroke.
Right now, it’s hard being a tree. With all the wildfires and natural disasters – along with human carelessness and greed – it’s tougher than ever. This Arbor Day, and beyond, lets keep “saves trees, save earth” in mind. Here are some ways to celebrate Arbor Day and create a more tree-friendly world.
Celebrate Arbor Day: Save Trees Save Earth
1. Plant a tree
It goes without saying planting a tree is one of the best things you can do. Even better if it’s a tree that’s native to your local vicinity! Check with your local seed library, or join a native plant group (Facebook is a great resource for this) to see what native tree species are available to you. If you have your own backyard or front yard, definitely give plant one!
If you don’t have the space to plant a tree (hello fellow apartment dwellers), look and see on your city’s local .gov or parks department how you can request a tree be planted on your street. Or, see if they have any tree planting activities happening any time soon. For NYC, check here to request a tree planting.
2. Check out your local forest
Do you have a wooded area right by your house? Or a local trail that runs through a forest? Utilize it! What better way to develop an appreciation for trees than being amongst them?
The minute someone hears “forest” they often think about tropical rainforests. But actually, there are several different kinds of forest types. Likely, you and I probably live near a temperate forest.
Here are the main three forest types (and some excerpts taken from Nat Geo about them):
- Temperate – Temperate forests are found across eastern North America and Eurasia. The temperatures of temperate forests vary throughout the year because of the four distinct seasons at these latitudes. Precipitation is abundant and lends to fertile soil that is able to support diverse flora like maples, oak, and birch. Deer, squirrels, and bears are just a few examples of the fauna that call temperate forests home.
- Tropical – Tropical forests are common to areas near the equator, such as Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America. Temperatures in tropical forests have been reported to range between 20 and 31°C (68 and 88°F). Tropical rainforests are the epitome of biodiversity. Animals include the endangered harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja)—a large predatory bird—which has become scarce throughout Central and South America, largely due to habitat loss.
- Boreal – The third type of forest is the boreal forest, also known as taiga. These forests, one of the world’s largest land biomes, are found across Siberia, Scandinavia, and North America (Alaska and Canada). Boreal forests have a significant role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Temperatures in boreal forests are, on average, below freezing. Conifers, spruce, fir, and pine trees are the predominant needle-leaf plant species in boreal forests. Moose and deer are just a couple of examples of large herbivorous mammals in this environment. Most birds native to the taiga migrate to find warmer conditions during the forest’s harsh winters.
Whatever kind of forest you have near you, I highly suggest getting out and exploring it! Even better if you can take a foraging class in the woods – it’s a great way to learn about wild edibles and really connect with the forest in a deeper way.
3. Stop purchasing products with conflict palm oil in them
Palm oil is one of the main causes of deforestation (along with agriculture, cattle grazing and logging). Rainforests, especially the Amazon, are often cleared to grow palm oil. They actually burn down the trees, which releases CO2 into the atmosphere, and use their ashes to fertilize the dirt left behind for planting palm oil crops.
Please do not support the palm oil industry. It can be found in so many products – here’s a deeper look into it – but typically fast food items like pre-packaged cookies, chocolate and even ice cream can contain the stuff. And sometimes it’s hidden in a rather sneaky way on the labels (Palm Kernel anyone?).
If you must purchase anything with palm oil in it, look for conflict free palm oil. Palm oil grown in California is typically better regulated (but unfortunately, most palm oil you’ll see in products won’t be utilizing conflict free palm oil so keep this in mind. It’s pretty rare).
4. Support conservation efforts
Always support forest conservation on a local and global scale when you can. Locally, you might find forests threatened with being torn down for development of shopping malls and supermarkets. Recently, Staten Island Graniteville Wetlands (which also had tons of trees in it, mind you), was torn down for a BJ’s Wholesale NO ONE asked for.
There was a huge march and protest against all this (and people are STILL protesting it), so if this is happening near you, please, speak up about it. Join marches, protests, or create them! Email, call and tweet your local reps to conserve these vital local forests. So many animals make their homes there – and we need to speak on their behalf.
In terms of globally supporting forests, I recommend donating to amazing non-profits working to protect rainforests. Some amazing organizations include Rainforest Action Network (I donated to this one!), Rainforest Alliance and Amazon Watch. No matter how much you’re able to give, every little bit helps. I personally love Rainforest Action Network because they give the option to literally protect an acre of rainforest with your donation. That’s so cool!
5. Use tree free products
Save trees, save earth right? We should always try to reduce the paper products in our lives where we can. Paper comes from trees after all.
Here are a few of my recommendations:
- Go paper free in the kitchen – Switch to reusable napkins + towels instead!
- Switch to tree-free toilet paper – believe it or not, toilet paper can actually be made from ingenious materials like sugar cane and bamboo!
- Try these tree-free tissues – made from non-GMO certified bamboo and sugarcane processed with elemental chlorine free (ECF) bleaching.
However, sometimes we do need to use certain items (like printer paper). The least we can do is choose printer paper that doesn’t fuel deforestation. I really love HP’s Multipurpose20 printer paper because not only is it efficient, but it’s made with FSC certified paper (which means it’s harvested sustainably from well managed forests).
Plus, HP Papers is teaming up with the Arbor Day Foundation and local landowners by investing in forest restoration projects around the globe to replant trees impacted by natural disasters. They’re even planting 10 trees in my honor!
For more info on HP Paper’s sustainability initiatives, be sure to check out my Instagram reel!
So, what are some of your “save trees, save earth” tips and tricks? Curious, would you give any of mine a go? Would love to hear your input in the comments below!
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