TreeEra + Green Upward: A Conversation Between Two Sustainable Initiatives
When we can interact and work together with initiatives that have likeminded values and ideas, it inspires us to learn and adopt new sustainable practices into our day-to-day lives. It’s much easier to join a community of people already taking green action. Through Instagram, Green Upward met TreeEra— an organization that helps individuals and businesses reduce their carbon footprint and combat the effects of climate change by community-funding the planting of trees. Although our overall missions are similar, our paths to get there are different, which is why we thought it would be interesting to answer a few of the same questions. It has been such a pleasure to get to know the inspiration and work behind Green Upward. Below is our collaborative interview:
1. What’s the vision behind your company?
TE: TreeEra wanted to make it as easy and approachable for people to live a little bit more sustainably. We understand that not everyone is ready to become vegetarian, has the luxury to cycle to work every day, or can afford an electric vehicle. Today’s society is accustom to subscriptions… Netflix, Spotify, even groceries are purchased through this basis. TreeEra, then, is like Netflix for the environment, if you will. For the price of a few good coffees per month, one can have hundreds of trees planted on their behalf every year. We also wanted to try to remove the stigma and doom-and-gloom rhetoric that so often surrounds climate change and eco-friendliness. We simply want to empower people to join a fresh, positive and impactful movement to address to issue that is climate change as a collective.
GU: Green Upward spun out of a personal blog and social media platform that I started about two years ago. At first, the goal was just to get inspired to live a more sustainable life as a designer. But as the project grew, and I launched the first set of products, I re-evaluated what I wanted this company to become for our sustainable community. I believe eco-friendly circular design should be accessible to all; and I plan to both design for folks who want to live sustainably; as well as teach others how to become sustainable designers and do-ers.
2. How and where does sustainability play a role in your company?
GU: Everywhere. I am always considering the most sustainable option; whether that is in my lifestyle or in my design work. I’m constantly on the hunt to do things better: to reduce my need for disposable plastic during lunch, or when out with friends; or when I am evaluating new materials for future designs.
TE: Sustainability is rooted (pardon the pun) in TreeEra's mission as a whole. Our hope is that if people sign up for a subscription, they will then feel empowered to make other sustainable choices. Maybe they bring their own mug to the coffee shop that morning, or maybe the opt to take the bus a couple times a week rather than drive solo. We are always learning about new ways in which we can live with a little more impact and hope to start conversations around climate change and ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Sustainability, then, is what surrounds the entire initiative. We like to think of TreeEra not as the solution, but a simple first step towards living a more sustainable lifestyle.
3. What inspired you to start the company?
TE: TreeEra sprouted on the grounds between a belief in climate change and a lack of knowing how to help. We wanted to offer a way for people to offset their carbon footprint without feeling intimidated by making drastic lifestyle changes. A TreeEra subscription is a simple thing for individuals to tack onto the pallet of their life - just like we pay $20/workout drop-in, or $8/smoothie. $12/month to go towards planting trees can become a part of our lifestyles and identities.
GU: This company began as an online journal of a sustainable designer and has become so much more. There is so much room to grow sustainably in the design and manufacturing world right now and there is such a need for it. We need companies and people who are constantly pushing the boundaries on what it means to really be sustainable. My community is also a big source of inspiration. They challenge me to grow as a designer and as a person.
4. How do you engage with an eco-conscious audience?
GU: I am active across multiple social media platforms but especially on Instagram. I try to post meaningful content about myself or my design work, or inspirational found material. I think it’s important to let my personality and style shine through this project. I try to keep it real by sharing real images from my studio greenhouse or life.
TE: The platform in which we find most success and engagement is Instagram. Not only have we been able to get our word out about offsetting carbon through planting trees, the amount of sustainable conversation on Instagram has opened our eyes to so many opportunities and ideas. I never knew how huge the Zero Waste movement was until we were so active on Instagram. It is inspiring to learn from and chat with other like-minded individuals and organizations all taking steps towards reducing their carbon footprint.
5. Where do you see your company in 5 years?
TE: In 5 years, we hope to see TreeEra planting over one million trees every year, and planting in numerous locations all over the globe. We also hope that our community grows beyond just planting trees, and sees sustainable living as an attainable and everyday way of living.
GU: I dream that we will have a couple more designs launched that will have the power to make a real positive impact. I hope that we will be able to work with other cutting edge materials and companies and help further the field of sustainable design. I hope we will continue to build and support a community of sustainable design enthusiasts!
6. How do you inspire others to be more sustainable?
GU: I try to inspire others by taking steps towards becoming the sustainable designer I want to become. I document and share about my design process hoping that others may find it useful to learn from my experiences. I try to be available to my community either online or in person. I love hearing about folks ideas and passions and brainstorming able how those dreams may come to life.
TE: We try to inspire others to be more sustainable by being climate optimists. Rather than focusing on the fear-mongering side of global warming, we like to empower people to do their part by highlighting the idea that small changes as individuals make a huge impact as a collective. Not to be too cheesy, but it’s like a forest - trees can make more of an impact together as a forest than they can on their own. We think it’s all about being better and not perfect - there are small changes we can all make and reduce our impact as a community.