One tree in the green-marketing forest

One tree in the green-marketing forest

So last week we enjoyed a bottle of wine with dinner, and then I noticed a bit of heavy messaging on the cork. See for yourself:

In case your screen’s a little dark, that says "One Bottle / One Tree / You Just Planted A Tree!"

Naturally, a hardworking investigative blogger like myself gets curious about these things, so I buckled down on about five minutes of backbreaking Google searching in order to discover the following information, which I now pass on to you.

The wine in question was Trinity Oaks, a California brand that, appropriately enough, has trees in its name and on its label. See for yourself here. It seems that the company’s tree-planting activities are accomplished in partnership with another organization, Trees for the Future, which plants trees in various African, Asian and South American countries, and has all kinds of other corporate partners. Check out the list on this page: everyone from Celestial Seasonings at the top of the list, to Whole Foods Market near the bottom, to something called Mamasource that I’ve never heard of.

Trees for the Future does other stuff too, like selling those carbon offsets that make us feel somewhat less guilty about flying on planes. And they won some awards back in the ’90s. They sound like a totally legitimate outfit, and I’m glad I accidentally planted a tree just by drinking some Cabernet.

But I always feel skeptical of these promises that, somewhere in Uganda or Honduras, there’s a sapling with my name on it. I guess I believe it’s happening, but it’s somehow hard to make the connection. Maybe it feels too easy, or it requires too much faith in the good intentions and competence of strangers. Or maybe it’s just that buying more products never feels like a great environmental solution to me, since people buying lots of products is a big part of the problem to begin with.

What do you think, greenies? Am I too cynical, or do you share my unease?