What started as a social media callout has quickly turned into an environmental force for reforestation — driven by a new audience of tree planters.
#TeamTrees — a collective effort to use YouTube creators to inspire support for tree planting around the globe — is the latest viral fundraising effort to take social media by storm. The project began with YouTube influencers MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) and Mark Rober accepting a challenge to plant 20 million trees in honor of MrBeast’s 20 millionth subscriber. They recruited hundreds of other YouTube content creators to help lead the charge and reached out to the Arbor Day Foundation to serve as the planting partner. Everyone involved was driving their viewers to donate on TeamTrees.org in support of tree planting.
The rest is history. Literally.
After launching the project at noon Pacific Time on Friday, October 25, the campaign ticker took off. In the first 24 hours, donations reached more than $3 million. Just 48 hours after launch, more than $5 million had been donated. After only four days, #TeamTrees was at $6.3 million — the largest 4-day total of individual donations in Arbor Day Foundation history. As of Tuesday, November 5, nearly 13 million trees have been funded. And at its completion, this will be the largest crowdfunding effort on the YouTube platform.
As the ticker continues to roll upward to 20 million, the biggest questions have been how and where all these trees are going to be planted. The Arbor Day Foundation is specifically positioned to scale up for projects of this size thanks to a vast network of program partners in the U.S. and around the globe, including the USDA Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters, Woodland Trust in the U.K. and NGOs in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Current projects that will benefit from the support of #TeamTrees include planting efforts throughout the U.S., Europe, Madagascar, India, Australia and Brazil. The reasons for planting vary greatly by project but include forest restoration after wildfires, reestablishing endangered species habitat, improving water quality, and improving resiliency.
While planting 20 million trees will not completely solve the complex challenge that is climate change, it is a step in the right direction. Based on a U.S. Forest Service analysis, these 20 million trees will:
- Absorb and store 1.6 million tons of carbon, the equivalent of taking 1.24 million cars off the road for a year.
- Result in 1.5 billion cubic meters of avoided water runoff, the equivalent of filling the water bottle of every person on Earth every day for a year.
- Remove 115,000 tons of chemical air pollution, enough gaseous pollution to fill 14,000 Goodyear blimps.
What has been inspiring about #TeamTrees is the ability of the YouTube community to come together, spread their message and make a tangible impact on this scale. Hundreds of thousands of individual donors have stepped up to join the team and help plant trees. Their voices have been heard. And the Arbor Day Foundation is grateful for their support.