Earth Day plus Arbor Day equals $avings

Someone should tell the Earth Day people that the Arbor Day people are trying to muscle their way into their territory.

I mean, here it is, Earth Day, and someone from the Arbor Day Foundation sends me this information about an 11-year-old named Michelle Holiman, from Stillwell, Oklahoma, who won their 2008 National Poster Contest about trees (that's the winning poster over there on the right). That's nice that they have this contest, and that this little girl won a $1,000 savings bond, but again, it's Earth Day. Arbor Day isn't for another few days, and aside from creating most of our oxygen for us to breathe, what can Earth Day possibly have to do with trees?

Well... maybe there is some overlap. In fact, trees provide more than oxygen, they can save us money. Here's what I learned, after the good folks at the Arbor Day Foundation tied me to a sturdy oak and gave me a talking to.

  • The net cooling effect of a young healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners that operate 20 hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50%, by shading the windows and walls of a home. --American Public Power Association
  • If you plant a tree on the west side of your home, your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years, the savings will be nearly 12%. --Center for Urban Forest Research
  • Trees can stimulate economic development, attracting new business and tourism. Commercial retail areas are more attractive to shoppers, apartments rent more quickly, tenants stay longer, and space in a wooded setting is more valuable to sell or rent. --from the Arbor Day Foundation people themselves

So there you go. Get out there and help the economy and the world by buying a tree. And since I'm currently typing this article with my nose, into a blackberry, if anyone happens to be passing through their neighborhood and sees a writer tied to a tree, please go free him.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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