LIVINGSTON, NJ — In an effort to replace the trees being chopped down for paper use, the Livingston High School (LHS) Key Club recently adopted a tree-planting initiative in partnership with a 501©3 non-profit organization called “Tree-Plenish.”

On Sunday, April 18, just four days before Earth Day 2021, the Key Club will host its first Tree-Plenish event “with the goal of offsetting Livingston High School's paper usage,” according to LHS Key Club President Priela Safran. Prior to the event, community members will be invited to purchase tree saplings to be planted in their yard on that day in support of the initiative. 

Already supporting the initiative are the Livingston Kiwanis Club and LikeWear, whose sponsorships have enabled the LHS Key Club to sell the $5 saplings at a discount of $3.40 each.

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After representatives from Tree-Plenish reached out to her in mid-October, Safran said her fellow Key Club board members were all enthusiastic about the idea of participating in an event that benefits the environment. She also pointed out that replenishing trees is a perfect fit with the New Jersey District of Key Clubs’ district project this year of, which is "Keeping the Garden State Green."

The Key Club then spoke to the LHS administration about how much paper was ordered during the 2018-2019 academic year and used that as a baseline for determining how many tree saplings the club will aim to sell during the event. According to Safran, the Key Club’s current objective is to sell and plant a minimum of 160 trees in Livingston.

“The two trees we are offering are red maples and eastern redbuds, which will be planted and delivered as saplings between 18 and 24 inches in height,” said Safran, adding that participants are able to choose the type of tree they would like to plant and can also request more than one.

Key Club members and community volunteers will plant the trees in the yards of the Livingston residents who purchase them unless residents request to pick up the saplings to plant on their own. Monetary donations will also be accepted in lieu of sapling purchases for those who want to support the initiative without planting a new tree in their yard.

Although all Key Club board members are contributing to the organization of the event, Safran has been attending monthly planning meetings with board members Maddie Peloquin, Sia Bansal and Malia Quiam, who serve as liaisons between Tree-Plenish and the LHS Key Club.

“We have approximately one video conference a month with Tree-Plenish's team to check in and continue planning,” said Safran. “We are also in frequent contact with them with any questions we may have.”

Tree-Plenish founders Lizzy Elsner and Sethu Odayappan, two former Mansfield High School students from Massachusetts, started the organization in recognition of the shear volume of paper being used at their school. After calculating how many trees they would need to plant in order to replenish the trees being removed from the environment for this purpose, the duo organized a tree-planting event and well-exceeded their goal.

Now in college, Elsner and Odayappan have expanded Tree-Plenish by working with various groups and organizations from across the country, including the LHS Key Club.

According to the organization’s website, the mission of Tree-Plenish is to build “sustainable communities by leveraging the power of youth” and to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle, or “Tree-duse, Tree-use and Tree-cycle.”

Tree-Plenish also reminds people that in addition providing clean air by removing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, trees also fight climate change by absorbing car pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; save energy by producing shade to help lower air-conditioning bills; and increase property values and provide a high return on investment for towns.

Like most organizations, Tree-Plenish has altered its programs to ensure safety of participants like the LHS Key Club during the pandemic.

For more information about the Livingston event or to pre-order saplings in support of the LHS Key Club, CLICK HERE. Orders must be made through this Livingston-specific link in order for LHS to receive the saplings.

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