On October 25, YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, more commonly known by his channel name Mr. Beast, posted a video titled “Planting 20,000,000 Trees, My Biggest Project Ever!”. In this video, Mr. Beast revealed #TeamTrees, a project also including YouTuber Mark Rober and the Arbor Day Foundation. Their goal is to raise 20 million dollars to plant 20 million trees. “Mr. Beast was challenged by a fan via a meme to plant 20,000,000 trees in honor of his 20,000,000 subscribers,” said Danny Cohn, the Director of Public Relations at the Arbor Day Foundation. “Playing off the number 20, he decided he would do it by 2020.”
This isn’t Mr. Beast’s first crazy internet challenge; he is known for outrageous challenge videos, such as “I Put 100 Million Orbeez In My Friend’s Backyard” and “Anything You Can Carry, I’ll Pay For Challenge,” among others. These challenges are not the most environmentally friendly, a fact he addressed in the #TeamTrees announcement video. “I haven’t been the most environmentally friendly… We’ve done many dumb things. And a lot of you might be of the mindset of the old me, which is basically, ‘someone else will figure it out.’ But that’s not how it works. We genuinely need all the help we can get.”
Trees are a crucial part of combating climate change. According to North Carolina State University, one healthy tree can store 13 pounds of carbon per year. The Arbor Day Foundation said that around one-third of global fossil fuel emissions were removed by forests annually from 1990 to 2007. Every year, trees remove 26,000 tons of pollution in Kansas City alone. Trees are a pivotal part of combating climate change, but there are other positive effects from planting trees, like reducing crime and saving money. Generally, there are fewer minor crimes, such as vandalism, graffiti, and littering among outdoor spaces that have trees as opposed to ones that don’t. Strategically-placed trees can also reduce the need for air conditioning in a building as much as 30 percent. Lastly, trees provide shade, make the air smell better and are the homes to many species of bugs and animals.
In his video, Mr. Beast made sure to emphasize the trees’ likeliness to stay alive. “Arbor Day [Association] and their partners are the pros,” said Mr. Beast. “They’ve planted hundreds of millions of trees and they’ll make sure they have a high rate of survivability.” Mr. Beast’s video showed the process of planting the trees, which included mulching, hydrating, and spacing the trees out so that they have enough room for growth. And, because the whole world needs more trees, they won’t just be planting in America. “All over the world in the forests of greatest need, we aim to plant on every continent except Antarctica,” said Cohn.
#TeamTrees has seen much praise online, raising 5 million dollars within 48 hours of launch. It has also seen support from many YouTubers, including TheOdd1sOut, Jeffree Star and PewDiePie donating and promoting the cause in videos. Even people off of YouTube have given money to #TeamTrees — Elon Musk and Tobi Lutke, CEOs of SpaceX and Shopify respectively, both donated a million dollars to the project. Cohn feels encouraged by all of the support. “The positive response is wonderful, but what is even better is seeing the millennial and Gen Z generations get excited about tree planting. They are truly using their voices to effect change.”
#TeamTrees is still collecting donations. According to Business Insider, they have raised 13 million dollars as of November 6. “This is your chance to make a difference. For every dollar you donate at teamtrees.org, a tree will be planted,” said Mr. Beast.