Week 28: #Waves4Change 2020 Sustainability Challenge: Plant a Tree

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Why Take This Challenge?

When you think of being green, your first thought might be of lush green trees, and for good reason! In addition to offering you a nice, shady place to sit in the summer, trees do a ton of work to help improve the environment. One of the biggest ways that trees help to improve air quality is by producing and releasing oxygen and capturing harmful pollutants.

Trees also help to protect waterways by reducing soil erosion with their roots and helping to reduce runoff from flooding by capturing rainfall in their leaf canopies. Additionally, trees help remove some nutrients from water, including nitrates and phosphates, which could harm the waterways if allowed to build up (https://www.nwf.org/Trees-for-Wildlife/About/Trees-Make-a-Difference ). With so many people and animals depending on our waterways, trees can be one of our greatest allies in helping to protect our water sources.

How Does This Challenge Benefit Me?

Planting a tree will benefit everyone! For your own home, trees can help regulate the temperature of your house, reduce noise pollution from traffic, and improve the overall look of your yard. And if you are a fan of observing wildlife, trees help to create natural habitats for many bird and animal species. There are also benefits for the greater community- trees help to absorb carbon dioxide and clean pollution out of the air, which will help you and your neighbors breathe easier.

What if I Already Do This?

Help your friends and family become tree-huggers, too! Offer to help plant a tree for your grandparents, or share some research to help a friend pick the perfect tree for their yard (The Arbor Day Foundation has a great online questionnaire to help you find your perfect tree: https://www.arborday.org/shopping/trees/treewizard/intro.cfm )You can also volunteer with local community groups or parks to help plant trees or help to remove invasive plants that hurt native tree species.

Prep This Weekend for a More Sustainable Week

Do some research to learn about what trees grow best in your community and consider what kind of native tree varieties flourish in your region. You should also consider how different varieties might benefit your home or backyard- for example, maple trees grow a lush canopy that can help shade a house, while thirsty willows can help to dry out a soggy backyard. Also check out the best time of year to plant a tree, and make sure to take good care of your new tree as it gets used to its new home.