In the virtual world, to grow a tree, you must first plant it in the desert ground. Your tree will grow with care and take root in the barren soil if you give it water and fertilizer. In reality, water pumps are delivered to African children who suffer from water shortages. This is how the virtual world meets reality. You play a game for free and the same number of trees you plant are then planted in the real world by NGOs by companies financing tree planting activities. Let’s play this game!
Dig the Ground and Plant Seeds
Many apps are made to make money, but few are made to save Earth. Presented here are a few great examples of how technology and smart phones are impacting the real world and trying to prevent the world from deforestation. Tree Planet is a game that challenges people to grow a virtual tree. People must dig a hole in the ground, plant a seed, care for the tree as it grows, defend it from loggers and sheep, and tend it with water and fertilizer. Once the tree starts growing, a team of real people will plant a real tree in the desert. They will even send you e-mail notifications with updates on the tree’s growth. It is a simple idea but has made a big difference. In addition to the planting of trees, water pumps are also delivered to African children suffering from water shortages. Tree Planet is currently planting trees in Mongolia, Indonesia, Africa and South Korea with plans to expand to six more countries. At present, 30,000 trees have been planted worldwide.1 Tree Planet was established in September 2010 and has gone on to receive global recognition for its innovative social enterprise effort. In 2011, it won the Korea Mobile Award for being a fresh new start-up mobile business. One of the reasons for its win was its big corporate vision: Save the Planet. The company wants to curb the effects of climate change by planting more trees that soak up carbon dioxide and replenish the air with oxygen. Moreover, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood like the farming of fruit, vegetables, other plants that cures diseases, etc.2 Oh Seoyoung, School of Communication & Media ’13 said, “I believe trees also have a calming effect on the mind. Coming from Sydney, which has an abundance oftrees, to Beijing, which feels like a concrete city, I wish Beijing would plant more trees.”
ForBear is another application similar to Tree Planet. When you use the application, the energy consumption of your smart phone is lessened and the developer does something good for the world. ForBear could also be a good way to teach young students or any adults about responsibility of protecting the polar bear. Especially, young students could log onto the application daily to care for their virtual polar bear until it reaches maturity. Besides these applications, you can also save on paper. MOB Printer is an eco-friendly application that prints PC data such as web pages, Word and Excel files, PPT slides, and PDF and Adobe content on smart phone-devices instead of on paper. You just need to download MOB Printer onto to your smart phone and register via a simple authentication process on the MOB Printer homepage. You merely highlight the data you want to print on the screen and click to download!
Give Water and Fertilizer
These apps promote environmental awareness and, prior to foundation the companies had strong interest in the issue. Companies wanted to make documentaries about the planting of trees, protecting the polar bear, and other important issues detailing topics of utmost importance. Many trees are needed in Korea due to construction of venues like golf courses, which damaged the land. Also, Korea’s culture of making mounded tombs for the deceased also necessitates the need for more trees. Bears residing in the north need protection as they liveon icebergs and floating masses of ice. In addition, the world tendency to make the environment hotter needs altering. People passionate about these and other issues began interviewing potential co-founders on their own time. They realized that one person could not have much effect, but a lot of people could make a difference to the environment. They began by raising media awareness, but it didn’t directly result in change, so the founding of apps began. Through these apps, people are changing their behavior.
Many companies now are promoting education concerning the planting of trees or environmental care. These apps aim to secure more partnerships with places like theme parks, which companies believe will help reach and educate younger children. Other plans are also afoot to help increase awareness of environmental damage. Through the apps, a person experiences the process of planting a tree or caring for the environment. For example, the sheep mini-game centers on the fact that sheep are one of the main causes so many trees die. The company is also planning to release an educational e-book on Junior Naver to help kids leisurely learn about the need to help the environment. Following the action of Tree Planet, companies are currently researching new locations to include in its tree planting community of nations like North and South America and, controversially, North Korea.
Carbon dioxide is one gas that causes global warming. Planting a tree is important because green plants use carbon dioxide to make energy through photosynthesis. After a tree absorbs carbon dioxide and other toxic pollutants, it releases pure oxygen back into the atmosphere. An acre of mature trees can absorb the amount of carbon dioxide produced from a car driven for approximately 26,000 miles.3 By planting trees, soil erosion and air pollution are reduced. Moreover, soil fertility and water retention capacity increases. Thus, trees can even cool cities by almost 10 percent. Imagine one million people planting a tree. This would be a great achievement since a huge amount of carbon dioxide could be erased from the planet. Therefore, the harmful effects of global warming could be dramatically decreased.
Keep Loggers and Sheep Away from Trees!
Follow the rise in start-ups after introduction of mobile phones, there has been an increase in the number of social ventures and companies aimed at making a difference in society. The game for protecting environment is one such venture, and it allows mobile users to help save the environment by simply playing its mobile app game. A clean environment could save many lives each year by removing tiny dust particles from the air, which harm people’s lungs and cause health problems that shorten people’s lives. Unfortunately, deforestation caused by illegal logging, forest fires, and droughts are responsible for endangering the Earth’s trees. We could eradicate the greenhouse effect and conserve energy by protecting the environment in our own small community and in our national parks and natural forests. All that is required is the application and enjoyment. You entertain yourself and nurture your environmental consciousness at the same time. Lee Yoonah, College of Law ’12 said, “By adopting and caring for a tree on the game, I sent a real tree to a real forest. Whenever I am tired of monotonous games, I play Tree Planet 2, which makes a difference to Mother Earth.”
Trees Fully Grown!
People may wonder, “Will my virtual tree really be planted in reality?” While it may be hard for some to believe that a free app can actually result in the planting of a real tree, Tree Planet’s CEO Kim and his staff have worked hard to make it happen. Tree Planet has partnerships with major companies such as Hanhwa and organizations like the UN and World Vision.4 Tree Planet receives money from app advertisements and this money is given to companies to compensate the cost of planting a tree. Corporate responsibility rises as well as reputation, which is viewed by sponsoring companies. Kim Hyungsoo, founder of Tree Planet said, “The cost to plant a tree is very expensive, but through users we are able to help provide the funds necessary to improve the Earth’s environment. When users play the game, they will realize it is not just a waste of time but action worthwhile doing”.5 The trees, the bears, and others are not only essential to the environment but also provide shelter and fruit to eat or sell. The water pumps, which appear in the game, are also donated to developing countries to help improve living conditions. More mobile apps should be made to make a difference in society. These new apps not only entertain people but make them feel good. People are contributing to a greener world and that feeling is worth more than any virtual currency.
1 Yoon Miyoen, "Shall we grow a tree now?," OSEN, March 09, 2013
2 Kim Jaeeun, "Play games and do good things," Hangeorae 21, January 14, 2013
3 Seo Jinhee, "Why do we have to plant a tree?," Precian, February 21, 2011
4 Lee Kyunga, "Tree Plant 2 application appeal people," E-daily, September 16, 2013
5 Kim Hyungsoo, "Let you plant trees," Magazine of Unicef, December 28, 2012