Calgary

Netflix for trees? Tree planting company uses subscription model to reduce your carbon footprint

For $12 a month, TreeEra will plant 100 trees in your name over a year to help you offset your carbon footprint and speed up wildfire recovery.

'We did that subscription model because that's how millennials purchase things these days'

For $12 a month, TreeEra will plant 100 trees over the course of a year to help people offset their carbon footprints and speed up wilderness recovery. (TreeEra)

For $12 a month, TreeEra will plant 100 trees in your name over a year to help you offset your carbon footprint and speed up wildfire recovery.

Instead of asking people to make a one-time contribution to an environmental cause, TreeEra works on subscription model, much like Netflix or Apple Music, Ryan Heal, co-founder of the Calgary-based company, told the Calgary Eyeopener.

Q: A subscription for tree planting. How did you come up with that idea?

A: The other co-founder and I were just talking about climate change and we felt like it was a big problem … and we wanted to think of what could we do to get off the sidelines and make a difference. We came up with TreeEra.

Q: Why a subscription service?

A: We did that subscription model because that's how millennials purchase things these days. They have a Netflix account, they have an Apple Music account…. We wanted to give them something that was accessible and doing it the same way they're used to doing business on a day-to-day basis.

I always use the analogy it's like getting a gym membership. When you go to the gym, you eat healthier. Hopefully, when you  sign up with TreeEra, you make a better choice … you just live a more environmentally-sustainable lifestyle in general.

Q: Why do you think people will catch on to the idea of subscribing?

A: So you can go to our website, you sign up and, depending on what subscription you choose, we plant a certain amount of trees for you per year. So it's just as simple as, you know, a few clicks … and we plant those trees on a yearly basis.

The concept is we plant these trees to help you offset your carbon footprint and hopefully help you live a more environmentally-sustainable lifestyle.

A tree planter with Brinkman & Associates Reforestation coming back to the cache after planting a “bag up” of seedlings in B.C. (TreeEra)

Q: Where do you plant the trees?

A: So our first plant was just north of Kamloops. There was some wildfires there about five years ago, and our first plant happened in June. We'll be planting again there next year. We're looking for a few other plant locations right now as well.

We're looking for spots that … maybe have been destroyed by wildfires or something like the pine beetle, where they aren't going to be replanted, and we'll take on that responsibility.

Q; Aren't these forests going to regenerate themselves naturally?

A: They definitely do… We've partnered with one of the largest tree-planting companies in Canada, Brinkman & Associates, and they definitely will over time. But they take a long time, so this helps stimulate and helps bring them back sooner.

Q: Many businesses have sold us on incentives to offset your carbon footprint. What makes you different?

A: Trees have always been one of the top things to actually sequester carbon. They say a mature tree will sequester one ton of carbon over its life time. Yearly, it's about 48 pounds… The average Canadian's carbon footprint is around 20 tons [a year]. Our $12 a month subscription is 100 trees a year.

Tree planters loading up their seeds at the tree cache before heading out to the worksite in B.C. (TreeEra)

Q: Are you a non-profit organization?

A: I would consider us to be a social venture.

So we're not structured where we provide a tax receipt but we're taking our profits and putting them into doing good.