We know that global warming is an existential threat to us and our planet and to combat this we need to plant trees. But what are we doing about it?
Just scrolling through social media and sharing a few posts? This YouTuber however, has done a lot more than just that.
With the basic premise of $1 donated = 1 tree planted, the fundraiser launched with a goal of raising $20 million and, thereby, planting 20 million trees by the close of 2019. And now, they’ve managed to generate over $21 million (approximately Rs 149 crores).
The campaign is being led by Jimmy Donaldson, who is known on YouTube as Mr Beast. He was asked (or as he says, spammed) by his followers to plant 20 million trees to celebrate his channel reaching 20 million subscribers in May.
He has collaborated with content creators like Mark Rober, Rhett & Link, EDM artist Marshmello, Jeffree Star, Simone Giertz, The Try Guys and Asap Science to help with the cause.
While they tried their best, on their own they could only manage to plant 1700 trees which is still a great feat, but far from that their target was. However, Mr Beast didn’t consider this as the end. He called on his viewers to donate a dollar to the Arbour Day Foundation which is the largest non-profit tree-planting organisation in the world. This foundation plants one tree for every dollar that is donated.
During one of the videos promoting the initiative, Jimmy stated, “We only have one Earth and it’s important we take care of it. Recently lots of not so great things have been happening to forests and people just keep making fun of our generation for retweet activism and not actually doing something, which is why we created TeamTrees.org with the help of the Arbor Day Foundation.”
Now, Mr Beast plans to use these funds to plant 21 million trees not just in the United States, but also in countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France Mozambique, as well as India.
According to The Arbor Day Foundation, the first round of tree plantation will start this year with 100,000 trees in California, 350,00 in Kenyas Kijabe Forest and 400,000 in South India’s Cauvery River basin. The Arbor Day Foundation will begin planting the trees next month and will have all 20 million of them planted by the end of 2022.
Inspired by this grassroots movement, industry tech leaders, including Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke, donated between 200,000 to 1,000,001 trees each. Elon Musk even changed his Twitter handle to @Treelon to draw attention to TeamTrees.
And by the end of December 2019, they managed to reach their target by collecting a total of $21 million.
TeamTrees acknowledges that these 20 million trees won’t curb climate change, but asserts that it will serve as a sign that people do care about the environment.
The campaign’s success is also a sign of how influential YouTube stars can be and how they can leverage that clout beyond sponsorships.