Trees help give life to all beings on Earth. They offer food in the form of fruits and edible leaves, medicine in the form of traditional medicine, oxygen, and shelter. Not only that, trees can contribute to the cultural story of the places where they live in.
It’s rather tragic that as human civilizations progress to urbanization, deforestation occurs to make way for increased food production, mining operations, and other capitalist ventures. In the process, communities get wrecked, wildlife is caught in extinction and exploitation, lands become unstable, and more natural disasters plague the world.
So what can we do to counter the devastating effects of deforestation? Reforestation.
Planting trees is one of the best ways you can do for the environment. So should this be made mandatory for students and companies? To make coordinated community efforts?
From a Students’ Perspective
Kristine Isabelle, a student from the Philippines, relates:
“Ever since the surge of the COVID-19 Pandemic, most of us were restricted from performing our normal daily activities. We were all forced to stay at home and follow health protocols such as wearing face masks and face shields wherever we go. Keeping a bottle of alcohol inside our bags seemed to be an uncommon routine in the past, but now, it is an utmost necessity in our bags for safety.
With that said, work from home became a thing, and even blended learning because of the restrictions. We may not exert the physical effort of going to school and sit for 8 hours listening to our professors teach a topic that has been taught since Senior High School, but, as much as we want to ‘enjoy’ the freedom of staying at home, blended learning happened. We still sit in front of our phones and laptops for the next 3 hours.
Quite dull, isn’t it? And here, we thought that online would be more convenient and less stressful because of countless requirements asking to be submitted at the end of the week, online reports and presentations, online quizzes, and whatnot.
That has been the setup for most of us. I could no longer count the number of survey links they sent in our inboxes for us to answer, and it is all about “How was your experience?”, “How can the administration improve our services for the online classes?”, “Any suggestions to make your online class experience a little better?”. Oh! Same old, same old. They are all the same!! Nothing has changed.
As you can see, the same old routine can bore and exhaust us despite not doing anything physically. At least if we do something physically, there is a sense of satisfaction and relief that we have been productive for the past 3 hours. The heat of the sun is not helping at all in making our experience great because it only adds up to the stress. Global Warming has already taken its toll on everyone, and we do not like it one bit.“
Given that students suffer from lethargy due to long inactivity outdoors, it is necessary to provide a good, physical activity for them. All the more, this is important to incorporate their sustainability efforts into these activities.
Hence, the Zero Waste Lifestyle System writes this guide to showcase a sustainable, physical activity for students and working adults.
On Planting Trees
PLANT TREES! This is one of the best physical activities outdoors that can have many positive impacts through a coordinated communal effort.
According to Investors of the Environment, “When done well, tree planting is recognized as one of the most engaging, environmentally friendly activities that people can take part in to better the planet.”
Paper works, presentations, and other tasks can take much of our time and exhaust us more than working out does, perhaps because our body needs more than just working out mentally but exerting a physical effort that is engaging and beneficial.
With that said, people, in general, would always prefer to do something that catches their interests, knowing the significance of it rather than complying with requirements which they could not see any relevance at all.
Hence, planting trees gives a sense of belonging. A sense of significance because doing it is not solely for the art of enjoyment but knowing that it can help change the world is engaging and inspiring.
Benefits of Planting Trees
Trees provide bountiful benefits for humans and animals – both short-term and long-term. ISo schools and businesses must encourage and motivate their constituents to plant trees as part of their commitments in the field. Here are the following reasons why:
Trees slow heavy rains and prevents risks of floods
Business Mirror reported that The trees’ roots suck water deep from under the ground to as low as 200 feet. Therefore, floods are worsening because people keep on destroying nature. No one is already preventing floods from happening because, as we all know, trees act like blockades in a good way. It absorbs water and prevents it from flowing down the plains.
Most parts of the Philippines (i.e., the Luzon area) are always prone to flash floods. It has been long overdue since people should have started planting trees to prevent worse floods from coming into the community. The more trees we plant, the fewer danger people will experience from floods – or no floods at all if we maintain our nature.
Trees keep the soil together
The firm soil there is, the better. Also, it means keeping the soil healthy. Keeping the soil firm and healthy is highly necessary because it ensures the survival of the land ecosystem. Moreover, keeping the soil firm can prevent erosion, leading to less pollution, fewer health issues, and more fertile lands.
A Cornell Chronicles report by Susan Lang states: “Erosion increases the amount of dust carried by wind, which not only acts as an abrasive and air pollutant but also carries about 20 human infectious disease organisms, including anthrax and tuberculosis.”
Trees can purify the air for enhanced quality
Trees absorb every gas that our bodies release in exchange that it releases oxygen for humans to breathe. They are also important because it absorbs fossil fuel emissions. According to U.S. Forest Service, trees work so much in sequestering carbon such that, for instance, in Greater Kansas City, trees remove 26,000 tons of air pollution each year. It removes air pollution that can endanger our health and releases fresh breeze into the air. Hence, if you have noticed, the peace it gives when our minds are in turmoil is a relief because of the fresh air it emits.
Trees contribute to our health
It boosts our mental health – because of the tranquil feeling it makes us feel – and increases our physical health. According to The Nature Conservancy, time with nature can ease anxiety and depression.
Similar to what I have mentioned in the previous points, it puts our minds at ease because of the breeze and fresh air it releases. Its soothing power is undeniably good. Hence, access to nearby forests and nature can motivate us to exercise and do some workouts with the nature as its fresh wind blows. And because we move around and remain active, it reduces risks of danger for our health.
Trees cools down the temperature
It eases our life a little extra than those urbanized cities with fewer trees and filled only with polluted air coming from both transportations and factories. While other places experience more heat, areas where there are several trees cool down the temperature.
Remember when you sat under a tree after a hike? You felt less exhausted because of the freshness it releases. The coolest part – see what I did there? – is that it filters the temperature in a natural way. No electricity used, just pure nature’s work.
Trees help clean our water
Worldwide, forested watersheds provide potable drinking water. This is because trees serve as natural sponges which absorb and filter rainfall, which eventually releases clean water on the rivers and other bodies of water, keeping it fresh. Moreover, trees are the most effective cover for water quality. It prevents soil from eroding – which contributes to water pollution.
Those mentioned above are only a few out of several benefits and advantages trees can contribute to our lives. Moving forward, did you know that there is a law in the Philippines that requires abled citizens to plant trees?
According to Section 8 of Republic Act No. 10176, also known as Arbor Day Act of 2012 says, “All abled-bodied citizens of the Philippines, who are at least twelve years of age, shall be required to plant one tree every year. “ Because this law already exists, the more people are encouraged to practice their rights for the salvation of the Earth. Hence, schools and businesses should inspire and motivate their constituents instead of making it mandatory.
Why Not Make It Mandatory?
Now, you might be wondering why we cannot make it mandatory. Making it mandatory can have consequences. If only planting trees inside the office or school grounds is allowed – although it is possible – the constituents might encounter danger along the way as trees are mostly planted in the forest of areas where trees are likely to grow healthily.
Mandatory programs can be counter-intuitive
According to Andrew Mateskon, “a mandatory tree planting program can become a popular target for enemies and subsequent administrations.”
Moreover, if your employees and students are less interested in planting trees, but because it is a mandatory requirement asked from them, they might not be able to perform as what is expected from there.
Planting trees must be done with careful planning
Lulu Zhang said, “Planting trees must be done with care – it can create more problems than it addresses.” When people are not motivated and cannot find engagement and sincerity in their hearts, planting trees might not go well. Quality over quantity still trumps here because you need to plant diverse trees, not just monocultures, to ensure the survival of ecosystems.
Instead, we need to mobilize people to plant trees in a unified system that corroborates local needs, regenerates native ecosystems, and protects the natural landscape. Because a newly planted sapling has less value than a fully-grown tree, we have to work together to ensure that the trees on the ground are protected from exploitation.
How can you get people involved with planting trees?
Inspire and guide people to plant trees more wisely, pay attention to the land needs, and keep forest ecosystems thriving. Here are some things schools and companies can do for their tree planting programs:
There are still people out there who have no idea about the condition of the Earth. So orienting them first about what is happening on our planet and the importance of planting trees can change the course of the game and may eventually inspire them in planting trees.
A fundamental guideline, but yes. Keeping your constituents motivated by showing the benefits and advantages, you might get more people than expected in planting trees. As much as possible, tone down the downside because not all the time it moves people. Instead, it might only inflict fear rather than motivation.
Set an example
You can never preach what you do not practice. Thus, setting an example that you care for the environment simply by putting trash away on their proper bins – may not suffice but can leave a mark.
As you can see, we cannot force people to do something in an instant. Everyone is tired of people bossing them around, and it needs to stop. So instead of making it mandatory, encouraging and motivating them would be the better option. And they always say, try and try until you succeed.
Don’t stop with planting trees. That is just one activity humankind can do to help change the world for the future. What our world needs is a complete shift towards a circular economy and sustainable living.
There is no silver bullet to climate change. It is not planting trees en masse. It is not banning plastic straws. Fighting climate change involves many changes that everyone should implement, from individuals to big institutions and governments. We need to move away from our throwaway instant culture to a mindful mindset that cares for people and the planet over profits.