Carbon Offsets/Credits Plantin a tree: a new holiday tradition

Published on December 24th, 2012 | by Scott Cooney

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Permaculture: a new Christmas tradition for my family

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Families have all sorts of traditions for the holidays. This year, I’d like to suggest starting a new one that contains the wisdom of the ages, and is one of the greatest gifts you can give to the next generation: planting a tree.

Don’t fret–it’s not the War on Christmas (trees), it’s just a great, enduring gift that you and your loved ones can enjoy both in the moment, and for a long time to come. This Christmas, my family and I will take several avocado and papaya saplings (we live in Hawaii) we’ve grown from seed over the last few months and plant them in the world where future generations will sit under their shade and eat  their fruits.

For us, it’s a bit of a diversion from our usual Christmas day tradition, which is usually either hiking or skiing. This year, we felt compelled…with all the news about groundwater contamination from fracking, increased pressure for offshore drilling, the potential end of wind energy tax credits, Solyndra going out of business, Canadian Tar Sand development, and the evergrowing piles of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it would have been easy to reflect on a year in which we seem to be taking 2 steps forward and 2 steps back in terms of global sustainability.

But each of us has the power to create organic, non-GMO food, sequester greenhouse gases, and at the same time, have a really fun day getting your hands dirty…all by planting trees. The additional benefit is the lasting legacy. Every year, your family could return to check in on Christmas plantings from years past (and maybe enjoy some fruit, if you happen to live in the tropics and not in the northern climes).

What kind of difference can we make? According to the Earth Policy Institute, trees planted in the tropics can sequester over 100 pounds of carbon emissions each year in the tropics. Count on my family for 500 pounds of carbon emissions fixed per year from our one day of work this Tuesday. Not to mention all the tasty papaya and avocado!

In a few days, I’ll do a followup post with pictures from our planting, but in the meantime, it’s not too late to go down to the local nursery, buy a tree, and find a place to put it. If you’re committed to showing your neighbors this isn’t the War on Christmas (and its patriotic forced giving of useless stuff), you can hang an ornament and some lights on your new tree.

Photo courtesy of Technology Credit Union on Flickr Creative Commons



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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on



  • http://www.ethical-business.eu Tara Gould

    Hi Scott,
    Thanks for your piece, I really enjoyed it. I don’t live in the tropics though (unfortunately and I’m quite envious!), I’m in the chilly climes the South of England and this morning there was an inch of snow on my car. You only get fruit from trees here in autumn, but I think a nice and earth friendly thing to do is to plant a Christmas tree or fir tree in the garden in the weeks before Christmas and decorate it instead of buying a chopped down one. Every year it will grow a little higher and you can decorate it as a family ritual. But aside from this…if you have any other suggestions for planting in a temperate climate in winter I’d love to hear them!
    Cheers
    Tara Gould
    @EthicalBizTara

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