Celebrate Earth Day: Buy some pants, plant some plants

Vancouver company launches Earth Day challenge to plant 10 million trees

A Garry Oak planting project in Oregon -- just one of the projects sponsored by tentree. | tentree

To celebrate Earth Day today, Vancouver apparel company tentree will have 10 trees planted for every article of clothing it sells.

Actually, that’s what the company does every day – commissions the planting of 10 trees somewhere in the world every time it sells a shirt, hoodie or pair of pants. It’s been doing that for a decade now, and has planted 75 million trees to date.

"We'll have planted our 100th million tree by the end of this year," said tentree co-founder and CEO Derrick Emsley.

The company’s clothing, incidentally, is made from earth-friendly textiles and materials, like hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester and TENCEL, which is made from wood pulp fibre.

The idea is to make their environmentally conscientious customers feel good about the clothes they buy by committing to planting trees every time a customer buys an article of clothing.

But how does the company verify that 10 trees will actually be planted somewhere when a customer buys an article of clothing?

That’s where its sister company, veritree, comes in. The platform provides verification of tree planting initiatives and allows customers to track the progress of tree planting efforts. Initially, it was used internally, but it is now being made available to other companies and organizations. In other words, the veritree verification system is now being franchised.

"It was about six months ago where we realized there were other organizations that really wanted to take part in it," Emsley said. "We wanted to encourage a broader industry approach -- pushing more tree-planting into this verified space. We've just recently started actually partnering with other organizations to support them in planting verified trees as well."

Veritree works with organizations and planters around the world and provides verification and project monitoring so that customers and sponsors can verify that the trees have actually been planted somewhere and are still growing.

For Earth Day, veritree is launching a campaign to plant 10 million trees, some of which will be planted in the Cariboo region of B.C., which has seen significant losses from wildfires in recent years. Tentree’s longer term goal is to see 1 billion trees planted by 2030.

Veritree is working with 30 corporate partners to plant 10 million trees as part of its new campaign. Corporate partners in the campaign include Samsung, Jeep, and Save-on-foods. Vancouver companies include Herbaland, Vega, and Mogo.

As part of the 10 Million Verified Tree Challenge, veritree and its corporate partners will plant trees in Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Canada. In Canada, tree planting projects will be done in the Cariboo region in B.C. and New Brunswick.

Emlsey started out as a teenager with a tree-planting business, hoping to get in on the carbon offset market. But the offset market for tree planting was still undeveloped, so he pivoted. Instead of trying to sell offsets, he came up with the idea of getting consumers to pay for tree-planting by buying apparel, with each purchase helping to fund tree planting.

"We sort of think of tentree not as a apparel business that plants trees, but rather as a tree-planting company that sells apparel," Emsley said.