There is no arguing with the fact that most people like trees, but what many often forget is that beyond just “liking” trees, we need them to survive. Trees provide us with a large portion of the oxygen we breathe, help regulate climate, and provide homes and shelters for countless animal species that we, frankly, need to keep the global ecosystem in balance. Unfortunately, deforestation and clear-cutting ancient forests has become a norm across the world. We’ve grown to prioritize industrial expansion and the production of livestock and palm oil over our vital forests and we are suffering the consequences.

Thankfully, many people are waking up to the reality that we cannot live healthy, sustainable lives without the help of trees and are taking action to restore formerly destroyed forests. Most recently, Mexico City announced plans to plant 18 million trees around the city bounds and surrounding suburbs. Environment Minister Rafael Pacchiano described the project as a “historic reforestation” to reinforce the “green belt in the megalopolis.”

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The primary goal of this reforestation is to reduce the air pollution in the region. This past spring, air quality had become so poor that authorities were forced to restrict the traffic of the usual 5.4 million vehicles in the city. Adding more trees to the environment can help “scrub” the pollution from the air – but it won’t necessarily solve the pollution crisis all together. The city also plans to replace 1,000 taxis that are more than 10 years old with hybrid cars and step up a program to renew cargo and passenger transport vehicles.

While this action will certainly improve the quality of life for Mexico City residents, it is important to remember that we all have the power to improve air quality and reduce pollution where we live. Cutting back on how frequently you drive and planting more trees in your neighborhood certainly help, but there is one other simple action you can take that has possibly the largest positive impact – eat more plant-based food. Animal agriculture is a leading source of global greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible deforestation as well as  rampant air and water pollution across the world. By choosing more plant-based foods at every meal in place of meat or dairy, you can help lessen this impact.

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To learn more about how you can help the planet with your food choices, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.

Image source: Shutterstock

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