To reduce the impact of paper bags sold in our stores, we partnered with One Tree Planted, a non-profit environmental charity on a mission of global reforestation. Together, we achieved our goal to plant approximately 45,000 new trees across the country: Antigonish County in Nova Scotia, Grey Sauble County in Ontario, and throughout various old-growth management areas in British Columbia.
“Tree planting aids in the process of revitalising forests after clear-cutting, wildfires or other disasters in that it speeds up the process of regenerating the forest ecosystem,” says Stephanie Clement, a Canada Project Manager with One Tree Planted. While letting degraded landscapes grow back naturally is important, Stephanie says tree planting also allows planners to influence what kinds of ecosystems will exist in a particular area. “Tree planting has many different impacts on the land, including water purification, erosion prevention, storm-blocking, biodiversity addition and more,” she says. “These ecosystem services affect every part of the landscape and its inhabitants.”
Tree planting impacts water purification, erosion prevention, storm-blocking and biodiversity.
What began as an initiative to eliminate plastic grocery bags in Sobeys stores developed into a national reforestation project.
This pride is first felt by the tree planters themselves, of course. “Working in old-growth management areas, which are protected, you know that the trees you’re planting won’t be cut down – that you are contributing to the renewal of the atmosphere and of nature in general,” says tree planter Tyler McKinlay. “It gives you peace of mind knowing you’re doing something that’s permanent.”
Tyler has been planting trees for 14 years, the last two seasons in the Chilcotin and Quesnel regions of BC with One Tree Planted. He feels that tree planting allows people a little bit of a separation from their lives, a little escapism combined with the camaraderie that goes along with teamwork. He also appreciates the serenity that the job brings. “We spend a lot of time in our own heads. And because of the amount of isolation we experience, planting trees is almost like a meditation. It allows me to reach a level of mindfulness that I can’t really achieve anywhere else.”
Planting trees is almost like meditation.
Sobeys Sustainability Specialist Gauravi Saini feels that the partnership with One Tree Planted is essential. “When we eliminated single-use plastic checkout bags in our stores, we knew it would help customers reduce the amount of plastic used within their shopping experience,” Gauravi says. “What we also knew was that this would increase the use of paper bags.”
Planting trees in Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia was deemed the most appropriate way to offset the impact of paper bags on the environment. “It felt like the right thing to do,” Gauravi says.”