On Arbor Day, Go Hug a Tree (or just plant one)

When I was a kid, Arbor Day was probably one of my favorite holidays, topped only by Christmas. All year, I picked maple seeds off of the ground, picked pine cones like I was harvesting them, and always saved my apple seeds. And on the last Friday of every April, armed with my Ziploc bag full of seeds, I would plant a seed in every patch of dirt I could find, and as the days and weeks progressed, I checked on my “babies” and religiously watered them.

Out of the hundred of thousands of seeds I planted as a kid, I know of two that are still alive. That doesn’t seem like much, but to me, it was and still is important. Still, the way the world works today makes it outrageously difficult to go the Johnny Appleseed route and run around planting seeds wherever I think a tree might go. So what’s a tree-fan to do, come Arbor day when all you really want to do is plant something?

Help someone else plant trees where they’re really needed, of course.

Plant A Billion Trees has a pretty clear goal; they want to plant a billion trees in the Atlantic Forest in South America. Right now they’re up to just about 250,000, and they only just started on April 3rd! One dollar plants one tree, and you can give as little or as much as you’d like.

Sustainable Harvest International was set up in 1997. The concept is simple: forests are being depleted and the result is that the people who depend on them suffer in poverty. Another donation, again as much or as little as you’d like, will help families who are disadvantaged by deforestation for as much as your daily breakfast costs.

Trees For The Future is a pretty similar organization to SHI. They started up in 1988, and since then have helped innumerable communities in Central America, Africa, and Asia learn to (or remember to, in some cases) survive and thrive off of the land. Their member costs vary, but the standard membership of $40 – not a lot, if you think about it – plants 400 trees. That is a LOT of tree.

Dell knows that electronics are one of the banes of the environment right now, and they’re more than willing to help. If you plan on buying anything from Dell, you can add the “Plant a Tree For Me” option to your shopping cart. No interest in getting computer products? No problem. You can donate without purchasing, and go from offsetting an LCD screen to offsetting yourself. Not a bad deal. (Though I didn’t think I was only worth about $100.)

If you can plant your own tree, and you have the space to do it, go for it. Donating is a wonderful activity, but there’s nothing better than planting a sapling (or better, planting a seed) and watching it grow. There’s plenty of stuff on the web to help you, and in my opinion, the mild pains in planting trees is always worth it in the end.

So go plant yourself a tree. And if you’re ever on by the Fulton Street Mall or in the Narrows Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn, say hi to those two red-leaf maples for me.

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