TAZO joins the fight for climate justice in partnership with SZA and American Forests

Singer-songwriter SZA states that "planting trees can help improve everything – from air quality to economic opportunity to mental health – and everybody deserves these benefits."

TAZO, tea and herbal tea blender and distributor (now a division of Unilever), has announced its commitment to fight for climate justice, in partnership with Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist and singer-songwriter SZA, and nonprofit organisation 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 neighbourhoods and communities of colour. Across the US, 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.

For decades, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities nationwide have been disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of climate change. In fact, some neighbourhoods can be five to 20 degrees hotter than predominantly white neighbourhoods in the same city. Environmental inequities are so pervasive in low-income communities and communities of colour 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 along-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 colour 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.

Aerial of an urban forest. Photo courtesy of American Forests

“Across the country, BIPOC communities are facing the worst effects of climate change because they live in neighbourhoods 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 neighbourhoods that need it the most.”

“Trees do more than beautify a neighbourhood – they’re life-and-death infrastructure for health equity and climate justice,” said Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests. “Trees can transform neighbourhoods 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 organisations 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 the company’s 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.

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