Announcing our new charity partner

One of the main reasons we started Pluto was to eliminate the bad bits about travelling.

Some of the bad bits that our product is designed to eliminate include removing the hassle from planning a trip, finding the best things to do, and stuff going wrong whilst you're away.

But there's a big bad bit about travelling which our product doesn't mitigate directly (yet) — the negative environmental impacts of travelling. That's why from June 2021, we'll be supporting the UK-based charity, TreeSisters, by planting a minimum of 200 trees per month to help remove carbon dioxide from the earth's atmosphere. Plus through our soon-to-launch referral scheme, we’ll plant 5 trees every time someone refers a friend to Pluto (more info about that soon).

TreeSisters are aiming to rapidly accelerate tropical reforestation, working closely with local communities, whilst providing leadership opportunities to women. Their forest restoration efforts are focused on 10 major ecosystems across the world, with each tree they plant costing 40p/$0.50.

The environmental impacts of travelling

It probably won't come as a surprise to you that travelling — and particularly when it includes flying — isn't good for the environment. But the severity of the impact may be surprising to some people.

To put it into context — a return flight from London to San Francisco creates around 5.5 tonnes of CO2 per person. That's more than twice the emissions produced by a family car in a year and about half of the average carbon footprint of someone living in Britain (BBC).

Credit: BBC

The first step to combat this is clearly to fly less. If there was one positive thing we can take from the Covid-19 pandemic — and our inability to fly — it's the opportunity we had to (re)discover the beauty, vibrance, and character of the countries that we live in. Hopefully, this appetite for exploring places closer to home won't be completely dampened once travel restrictions are fully lifted. Beyond domestic travel — as illustrated by the graphic above — train travel is a considerably more sustainable way to travel.

However, as a team of travel lovers ourselves, we appreciate that sometimes hopping on a plane is hard to avoid. To cover those scenarios, we wanted to do our bit to combat the environmental impact of travelling.

Why TreeSisters?

“TreeSisters is an invitation to everyone to do as much radical good as they can for the planet. Our global network of treesisters is transforming both lives and landscapes in extraordinary ways. TreeSisters offers unique global programs that focus on encouraging women's leadership, Nature-connection, and significant behaviour change as we make the shift from being consumers to restorers. TreeSisters is funding the restoration of environments, biodiversity and communities within more than 10 major ecosystems around the global Tropics, through a diverse portfolio of vetted, trusted reforestation projects and in the process, planting millions of trees"

Learn more about TreeSisters here.

With so many charities to choose from, there were three main reasons that we chose TreeSisters:

  1. The practical impact they're having — every 40p donated equals 1 tree planted.
  2. The transparency at which they operate — 95% of donations to TreeSisters funds charitable activities, with 80% of those donations focusing on tropical reforestation.
  3. Their focus on providing leadership opportunities for women within the industry.

Since we launched in 2018, we've been supporting the Travel Foundation with the work they've been doing to fight the negative environmental, social and cultural impacts of travelling. However as the climate crisis continues to evolve and we work towards promoting diversity and inclusion in the travel industry, we were ready to support a new charitable cause.

Why trees?

Tree-planting has been receiving a flurry of attention over the past few years, with research suggesting that global tree restoration is one of the most effective methods for removing carbon from the atmosphere that we have. One 2019 studyestimated there's room to plant 2.2 billion acres worth of trees, which could store as much as 205 billion metric tons of carbon, about 25% of the carbon human activities have released into the atmosphere to date.

Of course, it's not as simple as just planting trees. When it comes to a successful tree-planting programme, context is key. It's essential that the right trees are planted in the right places, with long-term plans in place to enable them to prosper. Tree-planting also needs to be approached in close collaboration with local communities, to ensure tree planting won't threaten their livelihood. In fact, when approached correctly, reforestation can provide timber, fruit and other forest products to enhance the livelihoods of local communities. TreeSisters approach their programmes with all of these factors in mind, aiming to recreate and restore natural forest ecosystems using indigenous species, fostering local knowledge and skills, all whilst promoting women's participation.

We're under no illusion that planting trees doesn't reduce the amount of carbon being produced as a result of travelling. So in addition to our partnership with TreeSisters, we're going to be working hard to share more inspiration and practical tips to encourage our community to travel more sustainably. But, so long as carbon is being released into the atmosphere from travelling, we want to do our bit to capture it.

For anyone who would like to keep track of how much money we're donating to TreeSisters and how many trees we're funding, keep an eye out for our quarterly report where this is published — find past and future editions on our blog here.



The two co-founders of Pluto, Alex & Harry.