Sunday, June 7, 2009

How to make tree planting cool again?

World Environment Day was celebrated worldwide last Friday. While looking in Grist, one of my favorite green information resources, I found that it extends its "Screw Earth Day Campaign" to the World Environment Day. Moreover, Grist added: Official couldn’t have said it better: Forget tree planting with a link to Cameron Scott's article on "Time to move beyond planting trees". Scott opens with the following:

"Tomorrow is World Environment Day, an international holiday the U.N. implemented shortly after the U.S. created Earth Day. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you to plant a tree. I'm going to tell you to do something bigger, better, more fun, and less tedious. After all, caring about the world you live in shouldn't feel like going to a funeral (now, pick up the shovel...)."

You can agree or disagree with Grist and Scott, but thinking of it for a while, I found that the most worrying point here is that planting trees might not be so cool anymore! I mean, I know the tree planting is more of an example here given to make a point and I'm sure nor Scott neither Grist have nothing against trees. But at the same time, can you imagine someone making a point with a negative context about local food? I doubt..

Tree planting, once the star in the green skies, just doesn't seem to be that shiny anymore. I guess the example we see here is one reason why it happened - tree planting might be strongly associated with going green and supporting the environment just on one day (Earth Day or World Environment Day), giving people and businesses fake feeling they done their share to combat global warming. It also might be that people just get tired of it - maybe you can't be the green queen forever!

Anyway, I believe Grist and Scott show here that more than all tree planting might have an image problem - it's not about convincing that tree planting is super-duper important, but about making it cool again.
So how do you do it? How do you make tree planting cool again?

Here are few ideas I thought about:

Learn from the current king - there's no doubt who is now the strongest and most popular green theme - it's local food. It means tree planting needs urgently its own Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, maybe a bestseller like "Omnivore's Dilemma", a movie everyone is talking about for months, and of course it wouldn't hurt if Michelle Obama will plant a nice tree in her garden.

Get some celebs to grab a shovel - if Scarlet Johnson or Brad Pitt were doing it (and not only once a year, but on a more regular basis), I'm sure that tree planting won't feel "like going to a funeral", or maybe it will, but everyone would like to join!

More fun, less tedious - it doesn't have to involve porn activism (although this one caught even Grist's attention), or guerrilla tactics, but anything that will make tree planting less tedious and more interesting and fun is more than welcome.

Get the coolest green biz on board - if green businesses such as TerraCycle, Nau or Better Place will push forward tree planting there's a chance some of their coolness will stick to the trees! Any more ideas? comments? feedbacks? we'll be happy to hear from you!


Raz @ Eco-Libris

*The photo at the top of the page is courtesy of our planting partner AIR