Why tree-planting exercises go a long way for local and regional travellers

By Niko Tanui

In 2007, Unilever Kenya Tea Company started a programme to encourage visitors to its plantation to plant trees to offset the carbon associated with their travel. Participants are then issued with certificates.

Using the Internet-based Myclimate carbon calculator, it calculates the emitted carbon based on the travel distances and determines the number of trees a visitor can plant to offset the carbon emissions.

The idea is based on the ability of most tropical trees to fix at least one tonne of carbon in its lifetime.

Through the programme, 317 visitors to the company have planted 1,161 trees in Lipton corner, next to Chelimo Arboretum at the junction between Kericho-Kisumu and Kericho-Kisii highway.

To celebrate the annual UN world environment day, Unilever holds a tree-planting exercise.

"We believe we’ve inspired many more people to plant trees – we believe our small action will make a big difference in the long-term," says Unilever Trees 2000 Initiative chairman Gabriel Tuwei.

In a further commitment to conserve the environment, the company last month announced plans to halve the environmental impact of its products by 2020.

"People tell us they want to reduce their environmental impact but find it hard to change their behaviour and don’t know how they can make a difference," said Paul Polman, the Unilever managing director. "By halving the total carbon, water and waste impact of our products, primarily through innovation in the way we source, make and package them, we can help people make a small difference every time they use them," he says.