May 31, 2016 3 min read

For over 10 years now, I’ve been actively engaged in sustainability and environmentally conscious movements. A series of moments woke me up, and I became aware that I can make a difference on this planet. 

It’s taken me nearly a decade to understand that this difference can play out in small, tiny, even minuscule acts. Taking things one day at a time, I patiently while away at solutions that will make an impact. So what’s the big picture—what is it that we are trying to achieve? Paul Hawken and his tribe call it Drawdown. We, as a collective community, are working towards drawing down the greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere.

In order  to further my positive impact on the planet, I took a leap of faith and allowed my personal grassroots movement, Simply Sustainable, to take a major shift. I went from selling jewelry to sharing information as a source of empowerment. My website underwent an overhaul and now, instead of pictures of necklaces, you’ll find 101 simple actions that I have taken since my first wake up call.

At the top of the list: connect with nature. Second: plant a tree. For me, connecting with nature is where it all began. After that, I realized that I would have to take action. Instinctively I knew that we needed less concrete and more trees, and that as long as concrete is being poured, trees will need to be planted.

Why trees you ask? For one, they provide oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Since we as humans inhale oxygen and exhale carbon, I’d say that trees give us life. When you connect with nature, you see that everything is connected. Without trees, we would not be able to breathe clean air.

In March 2015, we reached an unsafe level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere—over 400 parts per million. According to Bill McKibben's 350 movement, if we want to maintain a safe level of carbon, we need to get and stay below 350 ppm. This will take a collective effort that emphasizes, first and foremost, reducing our carbon emissions and lowering our current carbon levels.

While the big picture is technically bringing down Co2 levels below 400 ppm, the even bigger picture is quality of life. That’s what I’m after for myself, and the 7 billion+ people I share this beautiful Earth with.

Together we’re building a more sustainable planet—and in order to build a strong foundation, we need pillars. One Tree Planted answers the question Why Trees? with 6 solid reasons. These reasons inform the act of tree planting and outline the core benefits of the act. The first pillar is, of course, air, because it’s absolutely vital to our existence.

“Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the greenhouse gas effect, all while providing us with clean air to breathe.”

One big way that trees affect air quality is by reducing outdoor temperatures. This results in less use of energy demanding air conditioning units in warmer climates. Less demand on energy generation will result in fewer pollutants emitted, lower greenhouse gases, and ultimately a lower level of carbon in our atmosphere.

Trees become increasingly important in urban settings as they lend a hand with cleaning the air via their natural cycle of carbon absorption. Remember, trees breathe in pollutants like carbon dioxide, and breathe out oxygen for us to inhale. It’s a pretty neat cycle and is crucially important to living systems.

Stay tuned as I share all 6 Pillars of Tree Planting in a series. Next time, we’ll be talking about water—because without it, life cannot exist. You see? it’s all connected. Now go ahead and thank a tree. Or better yet, why not plant one? Click Here to plant a tree!

We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?

by Leah Feor

Founder, Simply Sustainable