What Your Teacher Probably Told You About the Environment
Okay—maybe you’ve heard this one before…
And we don’t want to sound like your 7th-grade science teacher, but it’s true: planting trees is good for the environment.
Actually, tree planting might be one of the most effective and cheapest ways to help combat climate change.
That said, in no way is planting trees an elixir that will solve all of the world’s environmental problems. Wouldn’t that be nice?!
But…it is a step in the right direction—and something we can all do to help Mama Earth.
Let’s Break Tree Power Down in Plain English
How exactly do trees help in the battle against climate change?
Trees take in carbon dioxide (CO2) and store the carbon—acting as a “carbon sink.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that a mature tree absorbs over 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
Trees also help us breathe easier. They release oxygen into the atmosphere and filter out pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and ozone.
Plus, they help to regulate the temperature and humidity of the air around us.
And they do all of this while providing homes for wildlife, stabilizing the soil, and beautifying our world.
Now that’s a lot of power for such a small seed.
But trees aren’t just helpful to the environment—they’re also great for our mental and physical health. A study on environmental research and public health has shown that being around trees can decrease stress, anxiety, and blood pressure while also increasing energy levels and happiness.
So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a walk in the park or sit under your favorite tree.
You’ll be doing yourself—and the planet—a world of good.
Before You Go On a Tree Planting Bender…
Now, as we’ve said, planting trees is great. But it’s not a cure-all for climate change.
For one, it can take years—even decades—for a newly planted tree to mature and reach its full carbon-absorbing potential.
And, of course, there’s always the possibility that a mature tree could be cut down before it has a chance to do its good work.
Additionally, planting trees is not always the most efficient way to combat climate change. In some cases, it might be better to focus on other carbon-reducing strategies, such as reducing deforestation, promoting forest conservation, or increasing energy efficiency.
The key is to find the solution—or combination of solutions—that works best for you, your community, and the planet.
Planting Trees the Right Way
Whether you think you’ll be planting trees on your next trip or in your backyard for Earth Day, you need to be strategic about it.
First, you’ll need to pick a tree depending on the location.
Some tree species are better suited for certain spots than others. For example, willows do best in wetlands while pines do well in open, sunny areas. To learn about which trees are native to your area and what type of conditions they need to thrive, check with your local nursery or nature center.
Second, you need to make sure the tree is planted properly.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people plant trees without taking into consideration things like the tree’s root system or the surrounding soil.
If you don’t take the time to plant your tree properly, it’s likely that it won’t survive for very long. If you’re interested in planting trees but don’t know where to start, check out this helpful guide from Tree Canada.
Finally, you need to be patient.
Trees take time to grow, and it may be several years before you see the benefits of your tree-planting efforts.
And remember, every tree counts!
If you’re curious about how else you can be mindful of the environment, read up on some other ways of going green.
Elizabeth is currently a writer based in Montreal. When she’s not glued to her laptop, you can find her sipping craft beer, practicing yoga, or planning her next adventure.