The world is looking a little bit greener today.
Team Trees took to Instagram on Friday with the news that donations received so far will fund the planting of 20 million new trees. The campaign launched back in late October with the ambitious goal of raising enough money by 2020 to pay for the planting of 20 million new trees, at $1 per tree.
The roots of this campaign (pun definitely intended), which is working in a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, took hold in an unexpected place. It all started back in May 2019, when the YouTuber Jimmy “Mr. Beast” Donaldson was looking for a way to celebrate after hitting 20 million subscribers.
What should I give my 20 millionth subscriber? I was gonna give him 20 million pennies but I procrastinated and I think it’s too late to get them in time.
Reddit really wants me to plant 20 million trees.
He soon realized after asking fans for advice that he could use his expanding reach to promote a greener world. In the months that followed, Donaldson partnered with a group of fellow YouTubers as they all agreed to call on their subscribers – totaling around 650 million – to donate money that would then go to the Arbor Day Foundation.
The whole operation was finally formalized on Oct. 25, with a Mr. Beast video (among others from his various partners) laying out the plan and the launch of the TeamTrees.org website. Meanwhile, YouTube agreed to waive any transaction fees connected to the donations.
And that was that. With the videos released and the site launched, the goal of 20 million tree plantings worth of donations by the start of 2020 was set. And as Team Trees confirmed on Dec. 20, charitable fans delivered in less than two months’ time.
The actual trees won’t be planted until the new year begins, in case it’s not clear. No one’s rushing out to get a fresh 20 million trees in the ground over the remaining 10 days in 2019. But they’re paid for in donations, with the total as of mid-day Dec. 21 now having reached more than 20.3 million trees.
Mark Rober, one of the YouTubers who partnered with Mr. Beast and a former NASA engineer himself, made it clear at the outset of the campaign that actions like this won’t solve climate change on their own. They’re important, though.
“The point here is to end the decade on a super strong note,” Rober said at the time. “It’s a constructive way to send a message to the politicians that it’s freaking time to do something about climate change. Plus, we really love trees, so this is like a fist bump to Mother Earth.”