Yesterday was all about trees around here. It was about using fewer of them, planting them, and being grateful for their majesty and divine life-giving and sustaining design. Studies have shown that trees make us happier. Urban public tree lined green spaces and streets reduce stress and crime. Their shade makes heat extremes more manageable and reduce our need for air conditioning. And when used to create wind breaks in agriculture, they reduce erosion of valuable amended top-soil. Beyond these fairly pedestrian benefits, recent studies suggest that our planetary tree cover will be key to the reversal of the climate crisis. (Related reading: Scientists Identify How Many Trees to Plant and Where to Plant Them to Stop Climate Crisis).
That said it is time that we confront our personal accountability in the rapid deforestation happening across our planet. An estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest, roughly the size of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). They are cleared for “the greedy few” to achieve short term profit on paper, lumber and newly cleared land. So again, I implore you to give some thought to how your big bank is using your dollars, many contribute to projects designed to profit on the stripping of the Amazon and other rain-forests. It is these very forests that could well be our salvation.
With my money already removed from this system, I decided to shift my focus yesterday to my own “attainable sustainable” choices. Mindful and simple little changes that if we all made them, we could make a real collective difference.
So let’s talk toilet paper. Every time you wipe you’re flushing our forests down the toilet. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are several certified brands out there that use 100% recycled paper or are milled from sustainably harvested eucalyptus or bamboo. No new trees killed…yay! Any of them are a worthwhile way to reduce your home’s demand for deforestation. I chose to place an order with “Who Gives A Crap” because not only are they tree free, but they are also plastic-free, and 50% of their profits go to a charitable cause. If you want to make the shift too they gave me a coupon code. Get $10 off of your first order. Have at it for all your home tissue needs!
Next I approached my paper consumption as an internet entrepreneur. With both my art practice and a vintage shop I use a lot of paper and card board. While I already have a large supply of card-stock laid in for my art practice, I vow now to not acquire any new card-stock unless it is certified 100% recycled or sustainably sourced. I’m also taking steps to ensure that my business collateral; stickers, tissue, and business cards, are made sustainably, are recyclable and/or biodegradable. If you have a small business and need some responsible branded packaging, may I suggest noissue tissue co. When it comes to business cards, I have long been an avid MOO customer. Their print quality and stock have always given my cards an impactful first impression. Now they’re offering tree-free stock made from fashion industry cotton off-cuts. Sign me up! My new batch of cards has yet to arrive, but I’m excited to feel them and start handing them out with pride.
Finally, after addressing my use of trees, I moved on to making sure I was replenishing some of our planetary tree cover. First, I did so by donating $40 to The Nature Conservancy through their “Plant a Billion” campaign. Every $1 plants a tree! That’s 40 trees I just planted!
I then turned my focus to my own backyard. Last year we mysteriously lost a very well established lilac bush. It left a whole in our yard and our hearts. Yesterday we filled that hole, with a brand new purple foliage cherry tree. It felt so good to physically dig in the dirt and put a tree in the ground. So satisfying in fact, that we’ve now got the itch and are looking around our yard for more places we could plant trees (without shading out our food garden). Hell, I’m sorely tempted to go rouge Johnny Appleseed-style on future walks.
In short yesterday was a day of action, and I can’t advocate strongly enough for how even these small actions can make you feel less helpless in the face of our climate crisis. Give it a try and see how righteous it makes you feel.