ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., Feb. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, TAZO announces its commitment to fight for climate justice, in partnership with Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist and singer-songwriter SZA, and nonprofit organization American Forests. Together, they are launching the TAZO Tree Corps: a paid, locally hired workforce that will use tree planting and maintenance to help combat climate change and create new jobs in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities of color – because trees have the power to transform neighborhoods. Across the U.S., trees absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants, and in addition to making a community greener and cooler, trees can increase air and water quality, improve mental health, lower energy costs and lead to more overall economic opportunity.1
For decades, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities nationwide have been disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of climate change. In fact, some neighborhoods can be five to 20 degrees hotter than predominantly white neighborhoods in the same city.2 Environmental inequities are so pervasive in low-income communities and communities of color that environmental experts have used the term “sacrifice zones” to describe areas that carry a greater burden of air, land, and water pollution and warmer temperatures because they are situated near chemical treatment plants, highways, or heavy polluters.
“The climate crisis is no longer a future problem – it’s here now and BIPOC communities are disproportionately at risk,” said Laraine Miller, President, Unilever Tea Americas. “As a brand rooted in challenging the status quo, we believe we have a role to play in fighting for a sustainable and equitable future, which is why TAZO is announcing the first steps of a long-term purpose ambition to fight for climate justice. Climate change is not only an environmental issue, but also a human rights issue, so we’re getting started by focusing on the racial injustices that must be addressed to make meaningful progress within the climate crisis.”
The TAZO Tree Corps will be a paid cohort of 25 locally hired fellows employed by The Davey Tree Expert Company who will receive training in climate justice advocacy as well as tree planting and maintenance. They will work over the next two years to achieve measurable Tree Equity in five cities – Minneapolis, MN, Detroit, MI, the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, Richmond, VA and The Bronx, NY – where historical discriminating zoning practices have left many low-income communities and communities of color with less green space. Tree Equity, a term coined by American Forests, means all communities, regardless of income or race, can experience the beneﬁts trees provide.
“Across the country, BIPOC communities are facing the worst effects of climate change because they live in neighborhoods that are disproportionately burdened with more pollutants and fewer trees,” said SZA. “Planting trees can help improve everything – from air quality to economic opportunity to mental health – and everybody deserves these benefits. I’m proud to partner with TAZO and American Forests to stand up for environmental justice and start making an impact in neighborhoods that need it the most.”
“Trees do more than beautify a neighborhood – they’re life-and-death infrastructure for health equity and climate justice,” said Jad Daley, President and CEO of American Forests. “Trees can transform neighborhoods and lives, and every person needs this healing power, regardless of income, race or location. But achieving Tree Equity is about more than just planting trees. The TAZO Tree Corps will help us turn this work into new economic opportunity for people in these disproportionately impacted communities. That is our full vision for Tree Equity.”
Additionally, TAZO is working with sustainability consulting firm Pure Strategies to conduct an environmental and social impact audit of its business – from evaluating workers’ rights in the regions where the brand sources its 50+ globally grown ingredients, to understanding the carbon footprint of its products, and more.
To expand the brand’s environmental justice commitments, TAZO has also committed to support WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Intersectional Environmentalist, two BIPOC-led climate justice organizations that provide economic opportunities, education, resources, community and training for BIPOC youth.
TAZO, SZA and American Forests encourage those eligible to apply to the TAZO Tree Corps by visiting TAZO.com/TreeCorps. To learn more about our pursuit to measure Tree Equity with American Forests and TAZO’s commitments to climate justice, head to TAZO.com and AmericanForests.org/About-Us/TAZO, and follow along for updates on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
1 American Forests, 2021. Trees as a Pathway for Social Equity. Retrieved from https://www.americanforests.org/why-it-matters/social-equity/.
2 The New York Times, 2020. How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/24/climate/racism-redlining-cities-global-warming.
TAZO exists to challenge the status quo to better society. Founded in 1994 by Steven Smith, TAZO has a rich history of pushing taste and blend boundaries in the specialty tea segment, with its core values rooted in supporting a sustainable and equitable future for all. Carefully crafted with the most delicious tea leaves, spices and botanicals, TAZO’s portfolio includes hot and iced tea, concentrates, k-cup pods, bottled tea and tea bags. For more information, including where to purchase, please visit TAZO.com.
About American Forests
Since our founding in 1875, American Forests has been the pathfinder for creating healthy forests nationwide. We create healthy and resilient forests, from cities to wilderness, that deliver essential benefits for climate, people, water and wildlife. Now we are focused on building a reforestation movement in America, from cities to large, rural landscapes. And we are driven by two critical issues: climate change and social inequities that people in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities face.
Too often, there are far fewer trees in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities than wealthier ones. This concerns us because it means that not everybody experiences the many benefits trees provide. That’s why we created a tool that determines whether a neighborhood has Tree Equity, defined as the right number of trees so all people experience the health, economic and other benefits that trees provide. The tool, aptly named Tree Equity Score, creates a score for the neighborhood that is based on such things as existing tree cover and ethnicity. The score can be used to build support for planting more trees in the neighborhood.
But we know that planting trees is not enough. The trees also need to be taken care of, and there are not enough people trained in how to do so. American Forests is helping to address this through urban forestry workforce partnerships that train and employ people from the neighborhoods that need more trees. Learn more at www.americanforests.org/TreeEquity.
About Unilever North America
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 150,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world. In the United States and Canada, the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Dove, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Magnum, Axe Ben & Jerry’s, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, St. Ives, Suave, TRESemmé and Vaseline.
For years, we have been taking action through our sustainability efforts to help more than a billion people improve their health and well-being, halve our environmental footprint and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business. We have made significant progress and continue to expand our ambition – in 2019 committing to ensure 100% of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognized in 2019 as sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and in 2020 – for the tenth consecutive year – as the top ranked company in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey.