Team Trees

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Team Trees
Team Trees circle logo.svg
DateSince October 25, 2019
Also known as
  • TeamTrees
  • #TeamTrees
MotiveTo take action against deforestation by planting 20 million trees
TargetTo raise $20 million crowdfunded U.S. dollars
Budget$22 million
Organized by

Team Trees, also known as #teamtrees, is a collaborative fundraiser that raised 20 million U.S. dollars before 2020 to plant 20 million trees. The initiative was started by American YouTubers MrBeast and Mark Rober, and was mostly supported by YouTubers.[1] All donations go to the Arbor Day Foundation, a tree-planting organization that pledges to plant one tree for every U.S. dollar donated.[2] The Arbor Day Foundation began planting in January 2020 and plans to end "no later than December 2022".[2][3] It is estimated that 20 million trees would take up 180 km2 (69 sq mi) of land,[4] absorb around 1.6 million tons of carbon and remove 116 thousand tons of chemical air pollution from the atmosphere.[5][6]

By December 26, 2020, the project had raised 22,702,530 surpassing the fundraiser's goal to plant 20 million trees.[7] As of April 2021, the project has raised over $22.8 million[8] and planted 7.1 million trees.[9]


The idea started on May 24, 2019, when a fan suggested on Reddit that MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) should plant 20 million trees to celebrate reaching 20 million subscribers on YouTube.[10][3] The idea spread across YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter, mostly in the form of memes.[2][3] The idea may have been related to the 2019 Amazon rainforest wildfires. American YouTuber, engineer, and inventor Mark Rober partnered directly with Donaldson to launch the fundraiser. On October 25, 2019, Donaldson uploaded a YouTube video explaining his plan,[11][12] which claimed the top spot on YouTube's trending page, and caused numerous YouTubers to join the movement.[3][13]

Notable YouTubers who have donated including PewDiePie,[14][15] Rhett & Link,[2] Marshmello,[2] iJustine,[2] Marques Brownlee,[2] The Slow Mo Guys,[2] Ninja,[2][14] Simone Giertz,[2] Jacksepticeye,[2][16] Smarter Every Day, Mark Rober,[2] Simply Nailogical, The King of Random, Dude Perfect,[17] The Try Guys, Alan Becker,[14][18] Alan Walker,[19][20] TheOdd1sOut [21] Linus Tech Tips,[22] Jeffree Star[14][23][24] and Jaiden Animations. Entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk,[25][26] Tobias Lütke,[27][28] Marc Benioff,[14][29] Susan Wojcicki,[14][30] Jack Dorsey,[14][31] and Jean-Michel Lemieux[14][32] have also donated and promoted the campaign.

The trees will be planted "in a variety of forests on public and private lands in areas of great need" starting in January 2020. The goal is to have them planted "no later than December 2022".[2][3]


Many YouTubers created content to capitalize on the growing trend of Team Trees;[3] despite the Arbor Day Foundation reaching out to only a few hundred creators, Team Trees is now featured in over 8,000 videos from over 420 global creators.[33] Across Instagram and Twitter over 556,001 posts have garnered more than 4.6 billion views.[34] Creators were able to uniquely inspire their audience to become donors and supporters of Team Trees through their relationships with their fans.[33]

In addition to social media influencers, large corporations made large donations including Verizon,[14][35] EA,[36][37] Salesforce (Marc Benioff), Shopify (CEO Tobias Lutke[14][27][28] and CTO Jean-Michel Lemieux[14][29]) and Tesla (Elon Musk).[14][23][25][26][12]

Discovery Channel made a documentary called #TeamTrees about the campaign which aired on December 3, 2019, coupled with a donation of USD $100,203 the next day.[38]


Team Trees has also received substantial criticism from some, primarily regarding its effectiveness and whether or not the science behind the recapture of atmospheric carbon with trees is adequate. Chemist and YouTube personality Phil Mason put the effect of planting 20 million trees into perspective, by showing that 40 million trees needed to be planted per day just to offset the carbon footprint of the United States,[39] requiring close to 15 billion trees per year for the United States alone. In his video, Mason also addressed global warming and climate change denial.

Climate scientist Dr. Simon Clark criticized it based on his fear of the self-licensing effect, which states that one's positive moral action makes them tend to worry less about future negative moral actions. As applied to Team Trees, Clark mentioned that someone who donates to the fundraiser may feel justified to perform other actions that might completely offset the carbon reduction obtained by planting the trees. As an example, he mentions how the carbon reductions from an entire lifetime of 20 trees could also be achieved by going vegan for six years, or could be completely negated by taking only four round-trip flights from western Europe to the western coast of the United States. Clark also attempted to put into perspective just how little of an effect Team Trees would have relative to the amount of carbon emitted annually. With the estimation of 20 million trees removing one million tons of carbon from the atmosphere over a century, Clark indicated, this is only a thousandth of the billion tons of carbon that we release every single year.[40]

Eike Lüdeling, the department head of horticultural sciences at the University of Bonn, stated, "It turns out that many of these seedlings, if you don't do this well or if people do it who don’t really care about those trees, then they all just die quickly. Sometimes it’s probably a better idea to plant fewer trees and really take care of them." Danny Cohn, the director of public relations for the Arbor Day Foundation, addressed these concerns in saying that "the partners who work with the organization are all required to have plans to help their trees thrive."[41]

Adam Rogers, writing in Wired, described more issues with attempting to combat climate change by planting trees. Much of the article is a response to an article published in Science regarding the potential for drawing carbon out of the atmosphere via a colossal restoration of forested land. Rogers indicated that technical comments left on the article after its publication heavily criticized its logic, which included substantially underestimating the amount of carbon absorbed by the ocean and overestimating the amount of carbon absorbed by trees. Rogers quotes Carla Staver, an ecologist at Yale University who wrote, "We're not talking about small errors here. We're talking about a huge difference in the total amount of carbon you could sequester." Staver emphasizes that while planting trees may be a popular and partially helpful solution, it's far from a truly sufficient solution and it's more important to focus on addressing the ways in which we emit carbon.[42]


  1. ^ Williams, David (2019-10-30). "YouTube star MrBeast wants to plant 20 million trees. As Of 1st Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and more helped him succeed". CNN. Archived from the original on 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Alexander, Julia (2019-10-25). "MrBeast partners with more than 600 YouTubers, including PewDiePie and MKBHD, to plant 20 million trees". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2019-10-28. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tenbarge, Kat (2019-10-27). "Here's why the top YouTubers from all corners of the platform are talking about planting 20 million trees for #TeamTrees". Insider. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  4. ^ Allain, Rhett (2019-10-25). "Can We Plant 20 Million Trees for 2020? The Math Says Yes". Wired. Archived from the original on 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  5. ^ "Impact of the Time for Trees Initiative". Arbor Day Foundation. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  6. ^ Mellor, Maria (2019-11-01). "YouTubers (and Elon Musk) want to plant millions of trees. Will it help fight climate change?". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  7. ^ "#teamtrees". Archived from the original on December 26, 2019.
  8. ^ "Team Trees". Retrieved 19 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "YouTubers' #TeamTrees campaign overcame big hurdles in its first year". 23 October 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Please save us MrBeast". Reddit. May 24, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  11. ^ "Planting 20,000,000 Trees, My Biggest Project Ever!". YouTube. October 25, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Cheok, Melissa (October 31, 2019). "Musk Donates 1 Million Trees to Global Reforestation Campaign". Bloomberg News. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  13. ^ Calma, Justine (October 25, 2019). "Planting trees to take on climate change isn't as easy as YouTubers might think". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2019-10-30. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Leskin, Paige (November 10, 2019). "YouTuber MrBeast's tree-planting campaign reached its goal of raising $20 million. Here's the list of prominent people who have donated, including Elon Musk, Jeffree Star, and even the CEO of YouTube". Business Insider. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  15. ^ PewDiePie [@pewdiepie] (31 Oct 2019). "Boomer here who didn't realize you could leave a message. This is from the 9 year olds #TeamTrees" (Tweet). Archived from the original on December 6, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  16. ^ Jacksepticeye [@Jack_Septic_Eye] (October 30, 2019). "Said I would do a personal donation during my livestream 🌲❤️ #TeamTrees" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Alan Becker [@alanthebecker] (October 29, 2019). "The actual reason why I donated $5100 #TeamTrees" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ Tryon, Oliver (October 28, 2019). "Alan Walker Donates $100K To MrBeast's Team Trees Campaign". CULTR. Archived from the original on November 1, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  20. ^ Mark Rober [@MarkRober] (October 26, 2019). ".@IAmAlanWalker planted 100,001 trees and took @MrBeastYT's spot on top so @MrBeastYT planted an ADDITIONAL 100,002 trees!!!#goodyoutubedrama #teamtrees" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  21. ^ Leskin, Paige. "YouTuber MrBeast's tree-planting campaign reached its goal of raising $20 million. Here's the list of prominent people who have donated, including Elon Musk, Jeffree Star, and even the CEO of YouTube". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  22. ^ We Built a Tree-Planting Cannon #TeamTrees, retrieved 2019-12-20
  23. ^ a b "#TeamTrees: YouTube stars boost tree-planting campaign to over $8m". BBC News. 2019-10-30. Archived from the original on 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  24. ^ Jeffree Star [@JeffreeStar] (October 25, 2019). "This is fucking incredible! I just gave $50,000 to plant 50 thousand trees 💚 Spread the word and help our planet 🙏🏻" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  25. ^ a b Cuthbertson, Anthony (October 31, 2019). "Elon Musk pledges 1 million trees to TeamTree campaign and changes Twitter name to Treelon". The Independent. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  26. ^ a b Strub, Chris (October 29, 2019). "Elon Musk Donates $1 Million To #TeamTrees, Changes Twitter Identity To 'Treelon'". Forbes. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  27. ^ a b Houser, Kristin (2019-10-31). "Rival CEO literally one-ups Elon Musk's million-tree donation". Futurism. Archived from the original on 2019-11-02. Retrieved 2019-11-02.
  28. ^ a b Farrell, Paul (October 30, 2019). "Tobi Lutke Changes Name to Lorax on Twitter After Pledging to Plant 1,000,001 Trees". Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  29. ^ a b MrBeast [@MrBeastYT] (November 6, 2019). "Marc Benioff just planted 900,000 trees and brought us over 14 million!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE ARE SO CLOSE!" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ Susan Wojcicki [@SusanWojcicki] (October 30, 2019). "Incredible to see the momentum of #TeamTrees and the power of the @YouTube creator community raising money for @arborday. I'm donating 200k trees to help #TeamTrees reach 20M trees 🌲Thanks to @MarkRober for your leadership!" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  31. ^ MrBeast [@MrBeastYT] (October 31, 2019). "Jack (CEO of twitter) just casually donated another 200,000 trees lol Go Donate! -" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  32. ^ Jean-Michel Lemieux [@jmwind] (October 31, 2019). "You did it team. Carbon offset for all those bots. Thanks for the nudge and support. Go donate! 👟❤️🌳 #TeamTrees @MrBeastYT" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  33. ^ a b Brouwer, Bree (December 23, 2019). "How #TeamTrees Used Social Video to Help Save the Planet". Tubular Insights. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  34. ^ "20M Trees Achieved! Go #TeamTrees". December 19, 2019. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  35. ^ @VerizonGreen (October 31, 2019). "🌳Tree-rific!🌳We are excited to support #TeamTrees with a contribution of 100,000 trees toward the 20 million tree goal. Our contribution represents 3 trees for every #Verizon Green Team member in 50 countries around the world. #WorkGreenLiveGreen @arborday @MrBeastYT @MarkRober" (Tweet). Retrieved November 19, 2019 – via Twitter.
  36. ^ Plants vs. Zombies [@PlantsvsZombies] (December 2, 2019). "Because more trees = less zombies In the spirit of Feastivus, we're planting 500,000 trees with @teamtreesofficl" (Tweet). Retrieved December 3, 2019 – via Twitter.
  37. ^ MrBeast [@MrBeastYT] (December 3, 2019). "Plant Vs Zombies planted 500,000 trees!!!! :)))))))))))" (Tweet). Retrieved December 3, 2019 – via Twitter.
  38. ^ Meyers, Alyssa (November 20, 2019). "Discovery Channel is making a feature about YouTuber MrBeast's #TeamTrees movement, which has raised millions to plant trees". Business Insider. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  39. ^ Mason, Phil (2019-11-17). "TeamTrees vs REALITY!!". YouTube. Retrieved 2020-08-20.
  40. ^ Clark, Simon (2020-02-07). "Why #TeamTrees could do more harm than good". YouTube. Retrieved 2020-06-15. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  41. ^ Calma, Justine. "Planting trees to take on climate change isn't as easy as YouTubers might think". The Verge. Retrieved 15 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  42. ^ Rogers, Adam. "Trying to Plant a Trillion Trees Won't Solve Anything". Wired.

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