As president of a company that produces compostable products made from renewable resources, Matt Hill helped introduce sustainable food packaging at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.
Within a couple of years, Hill was exploring other ways to improve the environment. In 2014, he started One Tree Planted.
Matt Hill, who started One Tree Planted, says his goal is to make it easy for peopleto understand the importance of trees and to help get trees in the ground.
The first year the environmental charity focused on global reforestation raised enough to plant 50,000 trees, and the number continues to soar. Last year, more than four million trees were planted, and in 2021, Hill estimates they’ll be able to facilitate the planting of 15 million trees in North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Trees restore forests in the wake of wildfires, repair damage caused by industry and support endangered Southern Resident Orca of the Pacific Northwest, Hill explains. According to the One Tree Planted website, trees also help clean the air, filter water and provide a home to a significant amount of the world’s insects, mammals and plants.
Hill’s pursuit of change has led to a global outreach.
One Tree Planted pools donations that are used to fund reforestation efforts with organizations like the U.S. Forest Service and World Resource Institute. Hill and staff research reforestation needed in areas like the Amazon, Indonesia and British Columbia. Their job is to identify viable replanting projects among the thousands of funding requests worldwide.
“I’m far from a tree expert; I know a little more than the average person,” Hill says. “I learn every day from tree experts. But I am able to execute quickly.”
The well-supported non profit has secured partnerships with thousands of businesses small and large, including Facebook and Adidas. Celebrities have stepped up as well, including Coldplay, who donated a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their most recent album. Last month, $55,000 was raised through a fan-initiated online campaign in honor of Outlander actress and environmentalist Caitriona Balfe.
As One Tree Planted continues to build momentum—and a passionate staff—Hill says their goal is to empower not just businesses but also individuals and schools to get involved.
“We’re not about donate, donate, donate,” Hills says. “We want to make it easy to help so we keep the messaging simple with pretty pictures. We show hope and inspire a better world.”
Kids like 12-year-old Henry Shapiro are baking up ways to raise money, donating part of the proceeds from his homemade cinnamon buns business to One Tree Planted.
Nationwide tree planting events inspire ambassadors eager to champion awareness and action within their own communities.
Elementary schools and universities are downloading a free, turnkey curriculum introduced last month to educate their students.
Early next year, One Tree Planted plans to launch a modern-day pen pal program that connects classrooms in North America and Africa to allow children to learn about each other and discuss the need to restore forests.
And an initiative to collect acorns for the planting of one million trees in wildfire-ravaged California is in the works.
“I never would have imagined we would have planted so many trees in this short amount of time,” Hill says. “It’s never been about a number. It’s about our efforts and relaying our successes and failed attempts. Donors want to be along for the journey.”
Help California Recover
Every year California battles wildfires due to drier conditions during a long-standing drought. Fires are getting bigger and more destructive. This year alone, about 8,000 have ravaged more than 4 million acres of land. In addition, the state is fighting off fungus and beetle bark infestations.
School children, already at home distance learning, have been forced indoors to escape the smoke-filled skies blanketing much of the state, smoke that has made its way to the Pacific Northwest. Hillsides have been charred and some neighborhoods leveled.
One Tree Planted has granted thousands of dollars to reforestation efforts throughout the state and this year the non-profit has pledged to continue its support. Donations help create young forests that are less susceptible to fires and the infiltration of damaging insects.