Complimen-Tree: How Free Tree Programs Can Help Sustainability Goals

Planting trees is the vogue way to save on energy costs and emissions, and some organizations are placing free tree programs high on their lists of environmental to do’s.

Non-profits are lining up all over the country to give away thousands of free shade trees to homeowners.  In Denver, The Park People gave away 1,000 yard tees to 750 families on October 2.  Program Manager Kim Yuan-Farrell says the trees went out to “twenty-three target neighborhoods which are chosen because of their low tree canopy cover and, in some cases, fewer resources to spend on trees.”  The organization’s website notes how “the shade of a large tree can reduce the amount of energy needed to cool your home, which results in lower energy bills and less carbon released into the atmosphere. These trees also enhance property values, buffer noise, and provide shelter for birds and other wildlife.”

In San Diego, the California Center for Sustainable Energy is focused on big time solutions to energy problems.  But, beyond providing monetary incentives for individuals and businesses to use more solar energy, the organization also gave away more than 33,000 free trees between 2003 and 2008.  If one out of every five of those trees lives to maturity they could offset as much as 6,600 tons of carbon in the atmosphere, according to Trees Water and People.  Not bad for a run of the mill tree hugging operation.

And these are just two examples of tree give away programs that are surprisingly (at least to me) ubiquitous across the country.  A quick search of your town’s name along with the words “free trees” could lead to some pleasant, sustainable, and bottom line lowering, results.  Give it a try.

Chris Boeckx is a former high school teacher and Peace Corps Volunteer.  Upon completion of his J.D. at the University of Denver, he hopes to focus on international business law.

Welcome to the University of Denver Sturm College of Law/Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Blog, a special section of! Here, University of Denver Sturm College of Law students will report on emerging, novel and contested land use and development issues from a sustainability perspective. We believe the development of the American West, and indeed the entire planet, necessitates a closer and more responsible look at not only how we use natural resources but how we build our communities and economies.We invite you to comment and engage with us over issues of interest to you. And we invite you to suggest topics for us to research and report on from our unique perspective as law students. But most of all, we invite you to take these ideas and share them with your friends and colleagues so we can all be involved in a more informed and forward-thinking discussion about our future.

Leave a Reply