Calling the fallacy of ads
Planting trees is not as glamorous as people believe
Every time I see a McDonald’s Big Mac ad I become a little bit sad.
Not because the sandwich will eventually kill me, but because it will never be what I really ordered.
The burger pictured in the advertisement with a big puffy bun, juicy patties and perfectly stacked condiments will more likely turn out to be a thin piece of meat on top of flat, soggy bun in the form of a lopsided sandwich.
For the last two summers, I have gone further north than most, braving the bugs and the elements to work as a tree planter.
Tree planting is by far the hardest job I have ever done and will probably ever do.
It is repetitive, boring, painful, exhausting and often unfulfilling.
Planting trees is no more glamorous than it sounds.
Put your shovel in the ground, dig a hole, plant a tree, close the hole, take two steps, repeat.
I very quickly went from burger advertisements to tree planting, so let me explain why.
A clothing brand that has recently caught traction and is becoming increasingly popular is a brand called “TenTree.”
Their name comes from the fact that for every piece of clothing they sell, they will plant 10 trees. Are they true environmentalists, or just great marketers?
I will let to you decide that for yourself.
The point I am going to make about TenTree is that they are doing to tree planting what McDonald’s has done to the Big Mac: the way that they represent it in pictures is very different than it is in real life.
This isn’t to say that my job — which I plan on returning to — can’t be fun, but it certainly isn’t how it appears based on TenTree’s social media posts.
Allow me to clear up a few misconceptions that may have been drawn about tree planting based on the pretty pictures that have been painted online.
Tree planting is not a one-day, Saturday afternoon volunteer job that you do on Earth Day to get your environmentalist fix for the year.
It’s a several week — minimum — job that has you up at the early hours of the morning, sometimes when there is still frost on the ground.
If it’s raining, you don’t get to take your umbrella.
Well, you could, but you’d be unable to plant any trees, and therefore wouldn’t make any money.
Four degrees Celsius and pouring rain? That’s Northern Ontario in the spring sometimes, and yes you still have to work.
Additionally, at the end of they day you don’t get to go home. You go back to your tent.
If you didn’t lay out the cash to get a good tent, it might be soaked from the rain, along with all of your clothes and sleeping gear.
Interested in seeing wildlife?
How cute will that black bear be when it completely mauls your tent before the clouds roll over and dump on all your belongings?
How about when black flies bite your face until it swells up so much you can’t go to work?
How about being kept up all night because animals have invaded your campsite?
These are just three examples of things that happened to people I worked with last summer.
Yeah, nature is awesome.
Lastly, who’s the one paying for all these trees to be planted?
I can tell you it’s not David Suzuki. Most planting contracts are logging companies fulfilling their legal requirements to reforest areas they have clear cut to make printer paper and toilet paper.
That’s not to say tree huggers don’t exist in a planting camp, but expectations about the motives behind planting need to be realistic.
Those two girls smiling in the advertisement about getting involved?
They just cleared $500 in a single day — I’d be smiling too.
However, it wasn’t easy.
They’ve been planting for years, and when they finally got the perfect conditions they worked non-stop for 10 hours, through blood, sweat and tears (literally), and then probably couldn’t move the next day.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and it’s totally worth it (well, sometimes).
Just don’t let advertisements from a brand trying to market their product change your perception of the grittiness of one of the least glamorous jobs on earth.