From providing the oxygen we breathe to preventing soil erosion, there any many reasons why trees are vital to our existence. Their natural ability to absorb CO2 from the air and replace it with oxygen makes them a key player in our fight against climate change. And while there’s no denying the need to drastically cut our CO2 emissions, research has shown that natural climate solutions like reforestation and protecting native forests could soak up 11-15 billion tons of CO2 per year. That’s 30% of what is needed to keep the world’s temperature well below the Paris climate agreement’s 1.5-degree goal.
So, here at Rituals, we’re on a mission. To date, the world has lost one third of its forest area (the equivalent of twice the size of the USA). And while climate change is happening around us faster than predicted, we still have time to change the course if we all act collectively. That’s why last year, we began planting a tree for every refill sold during Earth Week and Green Friday. In collaboration with our partners, we planted over 400,000 trees across Madagascar, Uganda, India, Mexico and Sierra Gorda.
But we’ve decided that’s not enough. As well as putting a strong focus on reducing our own carbon emissions across the business, we’re now pledging to plant, protect and restore five million trees by the end of 2022. Research has shown that protecting and restoring older trees in existing natural forests can have a greater effect at soaking up CO2 than just planting new saplings. For this reason, we’re extending our initiative to not only plant new trees, but protect and restore others too.
The power of the old
In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of carbon produced by a car driving 26,000 miles (that’s nearly the circumference of Earth!). The problem? They keep getting cut down. While there are laws around the amount of timber that can be harvested, bought and sold, due to high demand for timber products illegal logging has become a global issue. The UN environment programme reports that it accounts for between 10% and 30% of the global timber trade. This isn’t just a tragedy for the ecosystems these trees support, but the wider environment too - when a tree is cut, it triggers a huge release of CO2 that is stored inside. In fact, deforestation is responsible for 11% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
The sheer number of trees being cut down each year is why it remains essential to keep planting new ones - and we’re certainly not stopping. But with our extended focus, we can have an even greater impact on this global problem. So how will your refill purchase help to protect and restore these areas? To protect the forests, our partners use satellite monitors to track the areas being deforested. This information is then used to police the forests and tackle illegal logging. To restore the areas, trees will be planted in degraded sections, improving soils and helping vegetation grow back in a natural way.
And while we are supporting projects across the world, from Kenya (with ClimatePartner) to India (with EARTHDAY.ORG’s™ The Canopy Project) we are primarily focussing on one particular species of tree that plays a huge role in supporting the environment – the mangrove.
The mighty mangroves
These beauties provide vital protection to communities living nearby, helping prevent flooding especially during storms. Found in tropical and subtropical regions, mangroves are one of the only trees that can grow in salt water, forming unique forests along coastlines, shores and rivers. They are also home to many species of fish, thus providing communities with food and income. Crucially for climate change, mangroves are also one of the most effective carbon sinks (something that is able to absorb more carbon than it releases). Covering just 0.1% of the planet, they store up to 10 times more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests.
But like so many other species, mangroves are declining. As a result of climate change related weather events and rising sea levels, mangrove forests have been greatly diminished and fisheries have declined by 75%, leading to poverty in many communities.
That’s why we’ve pledged to support them – and other species around the world with our commitment to plant, protect or restore a tree for every refill you buy. Our extensive line of refill options covers everything from skin and body care to home fragrances and car accessories. And we are constantly working to add more. Not only are these refills better for the environment but each one helps to keep our forests thriving and supports communities across the world. Will you join us on our refill mission?