The clearest way into the Universe
is through a forest wilderness.
~ John Muir ~
[guest post by Alyssa Johnson]
It’s no secret that the phrase “corporate social responsibility” has become enormously popular in boardrooms and press releases over the past several years. That’s because corporate commitment to addressing a variety of societal, cultural and most prominently, environmental issues has shifted from being simply a public relations tool to a fundamental element of many a company’s mission statement.
Corporate social responsibility manifests in a number of important ways, including the incorporation of sustainable practices in manufacturing processes, product materials, energy consumption and other business activities. It is also a major motivating factor in corporate support for outside social and environmental organizations and causes. Visit practically any environmental nonprofit website, for example, and you will likely find an assortment of business names and logos indicating the extent of corporate backing for that nonprofit.
Environmental causes worth supporting today are almost too numerous to list. One environmental effort that has captured a great deal of interest is global reforestation. And it’s no surprise why. Deforestation has had a devastating effect on the planet’s environmental health.
How devastating has deforestation really been?
According to a consensus of two studies (Winrock International and The Woods Hole Research Center) providing what is likely the best current estimate, gross global deforestation is responsible for a yearly average of three billion tons of CO2 emissions worldwide – approximately 10 percent of all of the planet’s heat-trapping emissions. The Union of Concerned Scientists calculates that this is the equivalent to the annual emissions of around 600 million automobiles, which is about twice as many cars as there are in the United States.
Fortunately, deforestation’s hugely destructive contribution to global warming has not gone unnoticed by a large segment of the corporate world. Here are just six companies who are committed to the aid in significant reforestation efforts in 2017, both in the United States and around the world:
For Avon Products, Inc., the company best known for its lipsticks, mascara, fragrances and other cosmetics, the issue of deforestation is of particular importance given that the business is a significant consumer of paper products. As a result of its concerns, Avon has created programs aimed at addressing related efforts and policies regarding its use of paper. Additionally, it has established its own reforestation fundraising initiative called Healthy Forests, Beautiful World.
Healthy Forests, Beautiful World raises funds through the sale of “special, environmentally conscious” products in over 50 countries. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these products is then donated to support reforestation projects of The Nature Conservancy in Brazil and the World Wildlife Federation in Indonesia. As of 2015, Healthy Forests, Beautiful World had raised over $7.5 million for these projects.
In 2008, Texas-based computer technology company Dell, Inc., began a commitment to plant 1 million trees by 2020 to, “help sequester carbon and restore natural habitats.” The commitment led to the company’s establishment of its Plant a Tree program.
Partnering with the Conservation Fund and Carbonfund.org, the Plant a Tree program allows Dell customers and others to participate in its reforestation efforts by selecting the Plant a Tree option when purchasing Dell products on its website. An additional charge is added to the price of items purchased, with the amount of that additional charge going to the reforestation projects of the program’s partners. Donations to the program can also be made on the website without purchasing a Dell product. 100% of all payments made to the program go directly to support reforestation projects.
For over 20 years, clothing store chain Eddie Bauer, Inc. has partnered with conservation nonprofit American Forests in its reforestation efforts. Through the company’s Add a Dollar program, combined contributions by Eddie Bauer and its customers have resulted in the planting of over 6.8 million trees in ecosystems throughout the U.S. and Canada.
In 2016, Add A Dollar funds were used to support reforestation projects in Alabama, San Bernardino, California, and the Tahoe National Forest. According to American Forest, its partnership with Eddie Bauer has, “created the most successful reforestation project by a non-forest-related business in the United States.”
Through its Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, the well-known car rental company sponsors the Enterprise 50 Million Tree Pledge. The 50 Million Tree Pledge program, established in 2006 to honor Enterprise’s 50th anniversary, has committed itself to planting 50 million trees by 2056. Acting in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, and with the assistance of a variety governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations, the 50 Million Tree Pledge program in 2017 is sponsoring over a dozen tree planting projects around world: in the U.S. in states of Florida, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, California, Colorado and Texas; and overseas in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Spain, and Germany.
According to the Foundation, the benefits associated with planting 50 million trees include the production of oxygen for up to 200 million people a day, the absorption of over 50 million pounds of carbon, and the lifting of as much as a billion gallons of water out of the ground and into the air.
Green is Universal
Green is Universal has teams up with the Arbor Day Foundation annual Share-A-Tree campaign
during the holidays. They use social media and some of NBC’s TV celebrities to help raise awareness and commit to planting trees based on public participation in their various social media activities.
According to their website, over the next 40 years, this tree planting initiative will have reduced net carbon dioxide by 9,380 tons, reduced air pollution by 340 tons, and increased rainfall interception by 460,000,000 gallons.
Founded in 2014, LendEDU is an online marketplace for a number of student-focused financial products, including student loans, student loan refinancing, credit cards, personal loans, and more. It is also committed to affecting a positive impact on the planet’s ecology through reforestation. In January of 2017, LendEDU announced its partnership with One Tree Planted, a Vermont-based environmental nonprofit whose mission is to “reforest our planet and provide education, awareness and engagement on the importance of trees.”
Even under the best circumstances, destruction of the world’s forests will continue to impose an ominous threat to our global ecology – and survival – for many years to come. That simple, unfortunate fact only goes to reinforce the urgency for a sustained, multifaceted global reforestation effort. One in which environmentally ethical companies, and their customers, will be needed to help fund the fight.
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Alyssa Johnson is a full-time student at the University of Minnesota but also works to promote green living in others’ personal lives as well as through corporate responsibility. She frequently contributes to blogs to spread her message.