A lot of credit cards advertise that “for every __ dollars spent we will plant a tree.” How can these claims be verified? A simple hand calculation would indicate that, given the amount of purchases via credit cards, we should be planting billions of trees a year — which is not happening. What gives?
With a swipe of a card, you can help combat climate change.
That’s according to a host of credit card lines now touting tree-planting efforts. One Mastercard program, pledging to plant one tree for every $2 donated, aims to restore 100 million trees by 2025. Mastercard’s wooden TreeCard charges merchants a small fee. “We take these fees and use them to plant trees on your behalf,” it says.
Customers of the European bank Bunq are told that a tree will be planted for every €100 spent using its Easy Green plan, “launched to help make the world a greener place without any effort.”
Meanwhile, a cashback bonus option offered by Discover gives the customers the option to donate $1, which will plant one tree. And the fintech company Aspiration, which says it is “100% committed to clean money,” launched debit and credit cards that give consumers the option to round up their purchase to the nearest whole dollar, the proceeds going to tree planting.
These goals aren’t limited to credit card companies — corporations like Amazon and Unilever have also partnered with initiatives to plant trees.
Rainald Lohner is on to something: As we’ve previously reported, some environmental groups say there isn’t enough land and forest for all corporations to hit their ambitious tree-planting goals. One expert put it bluntly: “We’d need another planet.”
Are these tree-planting goals possible?
If you ask Mastercard, the answer is yes.
In a statement provided to Marketplace, the company said its Priceless Planet Coalition had “a clear tree-planting goal” it was “on track to meet”
“… success isn’t solely measured in terms of seedlings planted,” the statement continued, “and this is what sets the Priceless Planet Coalition apart. We are also focused on how much forest and biodiversity is thriving five years out and the restoration benefits the people who reside in and around these landscapes.”