Why we plant trees
“Ireland was once a land of forests. At one time, up to 80% of the country was covered in native wildwood. Yet today, Ireland is the most deforested country in Europe. Just over 1% of that original forest cover remains.”
We all share a responsibility to reduce our environmental impact and support our natural surroundings, and this was the driving force behind initiating our partnership with Hometree in 2019. Hometree is a registered charity whose work focuses on establishing and conserving permanent native woodlands on the west coast of Ireland. They do this through land regeneration, and encouraging biodiversity, through afforestation, conservation and education.
When we first started planting trees, our initial goal was to help restore Irish native woodlands, while offsetting the shipping emissions from every bag, box and bucket that left our roastery. At the time, we believed shipping coffee to our customers was one of the biggest sources of our environmental footprint. Since then, we’ve gone through the process of calculating the carbon footprint of our entire business, and we were surprised to learn shipping accounts for only 7% of our total emissions.
Calculating our footprint has been an enlightening process. It has not only identified the areas of our business that are doing the most harm, it has also given us a greater sense of ownership over the carbon we are producing. If we want to create a coffee company for the future, it’s clear we have a lot more work to do.
HOW DOES PLANTING TREES AFFECT CLIMATE CHANGE?
Today’s changing climate is primarily caused by a build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This has resulted in increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels and shifting weather patterns - which are creating major problems all over the world. Aside from reducing our emissions, one of the best ways we can combat climate change is by actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Planting trees and restoring ecosystems, is widely recognised as one of the most effective ways to do this.
Trees pull carbon dioxide out of the air during a process called photosynthesis. They lock the carbon away by storing it in their trunk, branches, leaves and roots, then release oxygen back into the atmosphere as a byproduct. As they grow, each tree is able to capture greater amounts of carbon dioxide, making well managed woodlands a powerful tool for climate restoration.
HOW MUCH CO2 CAN A TREE SEQUESTER?
It would be nice to have a simple answer to this question, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. The truth is, not all trees are the same. Some species of trees can store more carbon than others - even within a species, there are a number of factors that must be considered. The age of the tree, the size, the type of soil and typical weather conditions all affect a tree’s ability to capture carbon.
Fortunately, working with Hometree has helped us gain a much better understanding of how this works. Based on the climate in Ireland and the species of trees we are planting, every 8 trees we plant today will sequester 1 tonne of CO2e over the next 30 years. To figure out how this was calculated, follow us on a little breakdown:
We’ve decided to focus on how much our trees will sequester in a 30 year period because we recognise the urgency presented by climate change. Both the European Green Deal and Ireland’s Climate Action Plan have outlined the importance of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Even though the trees we plant will continue to capture a significant amount of CO2 after this 30 year period, we simply don’t have the luxury of time.
Last year, we planted 536 trees to help offset our carbon footprint for 2021. Using the figures from above, these trees will go on to capture over 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. This amounts to 66% of our 2021 footprint of 106.95 tCO₂e. While we are proud of our achievements so far, we’re not stopping there. We’ve dedicated ourselves to becoming carbon negative by 2025. To achieve this, each year we will plant double the amount of trees needed to offset our carbon footprint..
While this goal is important to us, we must also remember that planting trees doesn't give us permission to create unlimited emissions. If we want to ensure buying our coffee has a positive impact, we have to continue implementing solutions to reduce our environmental footprint. We believe it’s our responsibility to maintain a balance of keeping our emissions to a minimum while supporting the restoration of native woodlands across Ireland.