“There’s an Eskimo on a mass of ice, a Bedouin in the desert and a Polynesian at sea. All three of them are planting a tree. Our mission is to ensure this is not just the beginning of a joke.”
So reads the website of Treedom, the world’s first e-commerce website which enables people to plant trees and follow their progress online. The tree-planting social enterprise offers the chance to offset carbon impact, while boosting the livelihoods of local farmers in the global south – where they are already feeling the effects of climate change.
Carbon offset schemes allow individuals and companies to invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out their own carbon footprints. While carbon offsetting alone isn’t the solution to combating climate change, it all helps in conjunction with other actions.
Trees help the environment: they absorb CO2, they produce oxygen, they contribute to biodiversity and curb climate change. They can also produce food and therefore income, helping farmers to provide for their families and get their kids a decent education.
Treedom chooses a productive tree species to have planted on your behalf, after you estimate how much carbon you want to offset using its calculator. ‘Productive trees’ are trees that can bear fruits and things like cacao, coffee and the superfood baobab, as well as ‘fodder crops’ that are cultivated primarily for animal feed.
Treedom’s mission is both environmental and social; every project helps improve the life of local communities and encourages micro-enterprise, from areas confiscated from the Mafia in Southern Italy to earthquake-hit regions in Haiti. Working closely with NGOs in rural communities such as Cameroon and Kenya, a team of agricultural and forestry experts train local farmers to switch from destructive slash-and-burn practices of cutting and burning of plants to create fields to more sustainable methods. Co-founder and CEO Federico Garcea explains:
“We help fill the gap between the moment when the fruit tree is planted and the time three or four years later when it starts to provide a yield for the farmer. In Kenya, for example, we’re in contact with project leaders who supply the plants for rural communities, provide training and then harvest and sell the fruit, redistributing the profits through a cooperative model. The farmers have better food security and can sell the fruit at the local market to earn an extra income.”
The idea behind Treedom came to the social entrepreneur while he was working in Cameroon on a project to bring electricity to remote villages. “I realised farmers were being paid to cut trees down,” he says. “And I thought ‘well I’m going to pay them to plant trees instead!’.”
Co-founder Tommaso Speroni‘s interest in plants began when he was 14. Since then it has become his “passion in life, a source of both curiosity and ideas”. Together with Federico (pictured below), Tommaso is excited to have created the only website where “you can make the world greener with just one click.”
Transparency is important to both. Each tree is photographed and has an ID number, and people receive updates about the environmental and social impact that their tree is having.
Since its launch in Florence in 2010, Treedom has planted more than 1.1 million trees across 16 countries. Thanks to this business model, and its work with Italian multinational green power company Enel, it is part of the Certified B Corporations, a network of companies recognised for their significant environmental and social accomplishments.
Federico Garcea & Tommaso Speroni, Co-founders