It's December! This is the time of year that trees don't necessarily look the best (which is why your tree-planting events aren't during winter!), but at least some fir trees can make it through the season. Yet, here at Tree-Plenish, we (that includes you) are still doing much of the same work to prepare for the growing season. In this month's newsletter we'll include leadership opportunities for high school students, an exclusive article about climate change, and a Wordle to top if off! Make a nice dessert, grab a pencil, and read all the tree-related updates on our end!
Our sign-ups for this year have closed! Our grand total of participating schools is 226! We’re so excited to work with you all next year. As the holiday season sets in, you can use some extra free time to research ways to get Tree-Plenish into your community. Perhaps there’s a community event where your school can set up a booth to educate people about local environmental issues and advertise your saplings.
Current Climate News
Trees act like sponges that soak up emissions, so there’s always been the question: Could humans plant enough trees to absorb the greenhouse gasses we have put in the atmosphere? A team of scientists sought to quantify the answer. In 2019, a study led by researchers at ETH Zurich found that the planet could support nearly 2.5 billion additional acres of forests, without shrinking any cities or farms, and that these trees could store an estimated 200 gigatons of carbon. The study was heavily critiqued. A new study published in November 2023 in the journal Nature, finds that if forests were restored to where they occur naturally, then the trees could absorb 226 gigatons of carbon.
The increased discussion on the subject has brought new waves to forestation as a method to fight climate change. Firstly, planting trees can not be used to green wash. Planting trees and conservation can only do so much, and the entire world needs to look at multifaceted solutions. Secondly, tree-planting and conservation needs to be community led. Trees need to be native to the region and planted in areas they can thrive. Also, many communities rely on deforested areas to survive, so working with locals to find ways for both the forests and local community to thrive is essential. Read more at this link.
Mental Health Op-Ed
In the winter months, many of us find ourselves slugging through the day, with metaphorical weights tied to our ankles. During this time, when the sky seems gloomy, the sun sets before you even arrive home from work or school, and the floor seems so cold you barely want to lift your blanket to get out of your bed, it is extremely important to focus on your mindset in order to continue performing your day-to-day tasks. As people generally, if we believe we are “fine” despite feeling somewhat off, there are a number of symptoms which may reveal our struggle, even if they are not the traditional symptoms you may expect when thinking of an issue with mental health. Despite this, there are ways to combat these negative feelings. When feeling sluggish, you may want to look out for these certain factors in your own life, and then find a healthy way to cope.
Generally, when the majority of people struggle with mental health, you may see symptoms including, but not limited to, feeling sad or confused, having low energy, detachment from reality, drug abuse, and much more. However, these symptoms are not always the case. In other cases, specifically in men, you may see aggression, engagement in high-risk activities, or pain without a clear cause instead, and there are a large variety of other symptoms of struggle you may notice in you or your loved ones. As a precaution, if someone you know has gone through a major behavior change, make sure to check in with them. Additionally if you notice a behavior change within your own life, make sure to check in with yourself and either find a technique to cope that works for you or seek help if needed.
Something you may want to consider prior to and while seeking guidance may include different coping techniques. Some examples include breathing techniques, meditation, visualization, journaling, etc. These techniques are scientifically proven to increase your awareness of your surroundings, and allow you to calm down and move along in your life. Another technique you may use is spending time outside in nature. Even in urban settings, seeing green areas in the city can boost your motivation and give you an escape from reality. Additionally, gardening, hiking, or spending a day in a scenic park can boost your mood and overall give you a sense of tranquility. If it seems that you or your loved ones have tried these techniques, and they haven’t worked, it may be beneficial to seek professional help.
Speak for the Trees
If you live in Boston, check out this organization! Speak for the Trees focuses on increasing the urban canopy of the Boston area. They prioritize tree planting, particularly in underserved neighborhoods, to combine racial equity with combating climate change. They have plenty of educational resources students can read and teachers can contribute to, as well as opportunities for you to have a tree planted in your yard! Teens in particular can get involved by either volunteering or work for the organization through their Teen Urban Tree Corps program. More information can be found here.
Tree planting is just one way to get involved with sustainability--Earth Echo is another organization that covers a wide variety of other environmental issues (i.e., water quality and biodiversity). They have many projects you can be a part of, such as their OurEcho Challenge, a STEM competition where students identify biodiversity issues and propose solutions. We particularly love their GenSea platform, where you can join a community of people passionate about the environment and learn more ways to get involved. Like Tree-Plenish, they focus a lot on youth involvement, so consider joining their Youth Leadership Council as well! Learn more about their many other opportunities here.
While we have the time and space to plant saplings, there are many people in areas that don’t have the same access to resources, EcoMatcher is a great cooperation working to fill this gap. EcoMatcher is a certified B-Corp that partners with foundations and NGOs around the world that specialize in planting trees. The company uses a lot of innovative technologies to connect its users to the tree planting that they facilitate. If you would like to learn more about their corporation, check out the link!