There is no question that trees are critical to our survival, but most people don't understand just how critical. They do so much more than create oxygen for us to breathe. They are imperative to our functioning as humans and as a planet—and yet, we're cutting them down at a rapid rate. For instance, 430 square miles of rain forest were chopped down in the Brazilian Amazon in January 2022 alone. That's a 400% rise from January of last year.
Deforestation has devastating consequences, and soon it will be too late to reverse the damage. That's why it's more important than ever that we all join in the fight to save our trees. At the forefront of this effort is Columbia Sportswear, which has partnered with Conservation International and set a goal of helping to protect 1.7 million trees by 2027. But let us explain exactly why they decided to take action (and why you should too).
5 reasons to save our trees.
At the current rate of deforestation, we're losing about 30 soccer fields' worth of forest a minute—that's 15 billion trees cut annually. Since the beginning of civilization, 46% of the world's trees have disappeared, which is a huge problem for a variety of reasons. Here are 6 of the top ways trees are critical to our livelihood:
1. They create breathable oxygen.
2. They help reduce the effects of climate change.
In addition to converting CO2 into oxygen, trees also absorb and store some of the CO2 within their fibers to prevent it from entering the atmosphere and accelerating climate change. In one year, an acre of mature trees will absorb the amount of CO2 produced by a car driven 26,000 miles. Basically, trees help us clean up our mess.
3. They cool the Earth.
The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners operating for 20 hours a day. It turns out that planting trees around your house to shade the sunlight can actually save you 25% on cooling costs. Landscaping isn't just for aesthetics!
4. They keep us healthy.
In addition to giving us fresh air to breathe, trees remove fine particulate matter—aka harmful air pollutants—from the environment. Trees save more than 850 human lives per year and prevent 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms. Not only that but a large portion of our medications, including cancer-fighting drugs, are derived from the rain forest.
5. They make us smarter and happier.
In a 2014 study, researchers revealed that students with trees outside school windows were found to have higher test scores and graduation rates. The same applies to work environments. In another study, employees who had forest views through their office windows were shown to experience higher job satisfaction and less work stress.
How to take action.
By partnering with Conservation International, Columbia is pledging to help secure irreplaceable forest ecosystems, restore degraded forests, and protect critical wildlife habitats for the long-term benefit of people and all life on Earth. But they can't do it alone—they need our help! Here are 3 ways you can do your part:
- Donate to environmental organizations that aim to protect forests.
- Plant a tree. You can physically do this yourself or donate to a nonprofit that will plant them for you.
- Opt for brands that sell eco-conscious products, like Columbia, which takes steps to respect and preserve natural resources. Their new Break It Down Tee is fully compostable and is the perfect way to start shopping sustainably.
Be the change.
For as long as we've walked this Earth, trees have been supporting humans. But after hundreds of years, it's time we give back. We're living a real live version of The Giving Tree, and soon enough there will be nothing left for us to live off of. In our case, it's crucial we change the ending of the story—and today is a great day to start!