Leslie Chen, Staff Writer

Many YouTubers and other social media influencers are coming together to raise $20 million to plant 20 million trees by the year 2020. The project, called #TeamTrees, has since raised more than $10 million.

#TeamTrees was initially started after the YouTuber MrBeast reached 20 million followers. His subscribers challenged him to use his platform and plant 20 million trees to celebrate; the challenge then went viral on social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit. MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, and Mark Rober, former NASA engineer turned YouTuber, partnered up with the Arbor Day Foundation, a non-profit organization that has pledged to plant one tree for every dollar raised.

To help attract attention to the project, Donaldson and Rober each made a pitch video, and soon after, their videos completely dominated the YouTube trending page. “Let’s try and support each other, as well as amplifying each other’s videos,” Rober tweeted. “Our goal is to completely dominate the YouTube trending page.” Along with Donaldson and Rober’s videos, other top-tier YouTubers also released videos supporting #TeamTrees, with many amassing millions of views.

In only 48 hours, #TeamTrees raised $5,000,000 from over 20,000 people. The fundraiser quickly surpassed ten million, though, with the help of large donations from celebrities and executives; Shopify CEO, Tobi Lutke, takes the top spot with a million-dollar donation. The project has since reached $12 million and counting, with around one month to go.

As for how the trees will be planted, the Arbor Day Foundation will work with its partners around the world to plant one tree for each dollar raised. They will plant native trees in forest areas of great need. Obviously, it will take time to plant trees in the right places, but the foundation says they expect to have all the trees planted by 2022. “We really want to make sure they are being placed where they can do the most good for the Earth,” said a representative.

Rober addressed concerns that this initiative wouldn’t solve climate change, stating that it has never been the goal for #TeamTrees. “The purpose of this whole thing was to have a constructive and positive way to send a message to the policymakers that this issue matters,” he said, “As influencers […] we have influence, and we’re using ours to make taking care of Mother Earth cool.”

Regardless, planting 20 million trees does have many environmental benefits. The Arbor Day Foundation estimates that these 20 million trees will absorb around two million tons of carbon each year, equivalent to taking a million cars off the road for a year. They will also help reduce water runoff and filter pollutants from the atmosphere. Additionally, the trees are expected to generate $6 billion in environmental benefits.

No matter the amount, donating to #TeamTrees will still make an impact! To donate, go to teamtrees.org.

Graphics Courtesy of TEAMTREES.ORG