How Planting Trees Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Joseph Coppolino | Aug 10, 2019 | 3 min read

Why Planting Trees Helps to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

There are many ways you can reduce the size of your carbon footprint: bike to work, adopt a sustainable diet, turn down your thermostat, recycle. All of which are great. But there is one way to reduce your emissions and also make your property and community more beautiful, improve water quality, and provide numerous economic and social benefits... planting trees!

Wondering how? Here are just a few ways in which trees can help to flatten carbon emissions:

1 Tree sequesters 48lbs of carbon dioxide per year

1. Trees Absorb Carbon

Every living thing on Earth is made up of four basic elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Those four elements make up about 96% of your body, and most of a tree's roots, trunk, branches, and leaves.

While we humans get most of our carbon from food, trees breathe it in (just like we breathe in oxygen). But when a tree breathes, it inhales carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen — the exact opposite of humans. And as a tree matures, it can consume 22lbs of carbon dioxide per year (among other greenhouse gases like ozone), and release enough oxygen for you to breathe for 2 years!

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in its stead also helps limit global warming, providing for a cleaner, healthier climate.

By planting trees, you can help clean the air and fight climate change!

Trees in the city

2. Trees Help to Save Energy

Trees are important in helping to save energy by providing shadein urban environments, as they can lower temperatures in cities. According the to EPA, the shade from trees, in combination with the water vapor they release, can reduce peak temperatures by as much as 20–45°F (11–25°C) compared to unshaded areas.

And when shade is cast onto an office building or home, internal temperatures can drop 8–10°F. Some estimates say the shade from a single tree can save the same amount of energy it takes to power 10 room-sized air conditioners for 20 hours a day!

And a tree's energy saving abilities don't stop during the winter. Trees provide important windbreaks around buildings to reduce heat loss by as much as 50%, lowering heating costs and energy consumption — and saving you money!

This reduction in energy goes a long way when it comes to shrinking your carbon footprint, because over 1/3 of U.S. carbon emissions are caused by the production of electricity.

Central park in New York

3. Benefits of Trees: Beyond Carbon Offsets

Helping to reduce and offset carbon emissions is only one aspect of how trees help improve our lives. Some of the other benefits of trees are:

  • Trees can absorb and retain water. As rainwater falls, much of it gets picked up by trees, preventing it from overwhelming storm drains. On average, a mature tree in a city can absorb up to 1,000 gallons of rainfall every year that would otherwise need to be pumped and filtered. In New York City, urban trees help retain nearly 900 million gallons of rainwater annually, saving the city more than $35 million dollars in stormwater management costs.
  • Trees also provide social and economic, such as creating jobs and helping to raise people out of poverty and achieve sustainable development, which ultimately improves our environment.
  • Trees also provide health benefits, providing medicine and helping clean air.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of trees, checkout our Six Pillars on why trees are important.

Plant One Tree Today

If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint and give back to the planet, trees are one of the most effective and personally beneficial ways to do it. A nicer home, a better environment, and more money in your wallet.

Those are some pretty good reasons to plant a tree.

Know Your Carbon Emissions

Want more facts about your carbon footprint?
Download the poster below and discover where your carbon emissions are coming from!

Know your carbon emissions poster

Get Your Carbon Emissions Poster

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. For Treecember, we're planting trees that support a global forest fire recovery fund. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Reforest lands damaged by record-setting fires
  • Support healthy habitat for iconic biodiversity
  • Plant tree species that will help reduce future fire impact
  • This holiday season, we’re planting trees in areas around the world that have been severely affected by forest fires and aren't able to recover a healthy ecosystem on their own. The most common naturally-caused wildfires occur during droughts or dry weather, and under these circumstances, trees and other vegetation are converted to flammable fuel. Human-caused forest fires can be a result of various activities like unregulated slash and burn agriculture, equipment failure or engine sparks, and discarded cigarettes.

    After wildfires, reforestation is essential in areas where the fire intensity burned off available seed supply within the soil, and/or where there are not enough healthy trees still growing and producing new seeds nearby. Reforestation starts once professional assessments have been made to determine where human intervention would be the most ecologically beneficial. Help restore these vital ecosystems by planting a tree. 🌿
  • Every year, forest fires are increasing in size and severity, damaging vital ecosystems and creating a need for millions of trees. Some major consequences of forest fires include significant loss of wildlife, loss of vegetation, soil erosion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

    With so much fire damage, reforestation is essential to catalyze the environmental recovery process. The trees are carefully planted to prevent invasive species from colonizing burn scars and restore quality habitat for native biodiversity. One Tree Planted is connecting with on-the-ground partners to establish viable reforestation projects when the recently affected regions are ready for planting. This fund will contribute to planting projects in British Columbia, Idaho, Ghana, Portugal, and beyond. Let's get to work! 🌲
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • To maximize the impact of your donation, our partners on the ground will determine the most appropriate species of tree and shrubs. We only plant native tree species that will restore the local ecosystem, re-establish wildlife habitat, and reduce the likelihood of future fires.

Sign Up to our Newsletter

Get good news, reforestation updates, planting event information, and more delivered right to your inbox.