About me

Why I created Travel & Tree

Portrait of Irene Smetana in penumbra, smiling

My contribution to life

I love to travel. I love nature and I love to explore the natural beauty of this planet. At the same time, topics like climate protection and sustainability are also important to me. How is it possible to combine the aspects of traveling, protecting nature, our climate, and our planet? 
At first glance, it won’t work. Although there are great green and sustainable travel deals, quite a lot of trips are associated with extensive CO2 emissions e.g. for every flight. Unfortunately, this fact will not change soon. If emission-free flights ever materialize, I’m sure I’ll be a big proponent.

So, what shall we do?

Plant a tree! In best case we plant a tree with everythign we do and with everything we buy.
Don’t you agree?!

Let's go: with a shovel and a few saplings in my hand

Henrik Lindner and Irene Smetana standing in tree plantation field
Irene Smetana planting a tree sitting on her haunches

I planted trees for the first time in 2017:  sturdy shoes, standing in the field, with a shovel and a some tree seedlings in my hand. It was a great feeling. Friends and family supported me in this campaign. I planted some trees for them, adding a small wooden tag with their name on it. This experience was a lot of fun – especially the joy that I gained was priceless.

Dark blue hiking shoes on tree plantation green field
Tree plantation field with four planting rows in Quesitz, Saxony, Germany
Close up of tree seedling in tree plantation field
Close up of tree seedling in tree plantation field

How a congress helped me find the right business idea

At some point in my life and because of various personal reasons, I had to think about how to reposition myself professionally and how I would imagine my future life to be. I was looking for a new challenge. I wanted to contribute to something valuable and something that I will leave behind in life. To me, it was important to follow a mission and a higher goal, something that is not just about the interests of an individual or a single company.

In Oktober 2019, I went to a congress about tourism. This was the first time I heard about how climate change would affect the global tourism industry. Simply put, if we fail to radically and rapidly reduce global CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, about one-third of the world will no longer be accessible travel destinations. Floods, droughts, civil wars, social unrest, etc. will be the reasons why it will become impossible to travel regions that are now still beautiful holiday destinations. Just think of the destruction that Hurricane Dorian caused in the Bahamas in Aug. 2019, the disastrous bushfire in Australia or the floods in Venice in Nov. 2019.  Because of these environmental disasters, the refugee movements towards the north will pose new, unprecedented challenges to all western nations.

All of this looked shocking and alarming to me. I had never thought about that! Why doesn’t anybody talk about this? Why is this not mentioned in the media? Why isn’t it discussed in public? This was an alarming wake-up call for me. Suddenly, I knew what do to. I figured out that it would be impossible to convince everyone who loves to travel to stop traveling or to travel green. I was aware of the fact that I couldn’t influence other people’s travel behavior and thinking. At the same time, I realized that I eventually could use the fun of traveling for climate protection and combine one with the other. This seemed plausible and attractive to me. I started thinking about solutions ans that’s how “Travel & Tree” was created.

CO2 emissions of passenger aircraft converted into trees

CO2 emissions emitted from traveling are enormous. According to the well-known German news portal, “Spiegel Online,” 918 million tons of CO2 were emitted in 2018 by flights alone. (A year ago, there were 800 million tons of CO2 emitted.) This equates to 2.5% of total global CO2 emissions. About 80% of these CO2 emissions are produced by passenger aircraft alone, while the remaining 20% comes from the expense of freight traffic. This is incredible!

Here are some facts: One tree binds about 0,5 tons of CO2 over its lifetime. That’s not very much, especially when you compare it to a flight and its CO2 emissions. This also means that for every tree that is deforested and burned, at least 0,5 tons of CO2 are released back into the atmosphere. It is terrible and frightening that more and more valuable rainforests are being destroyed. More and more CO2 and other greenhouse gases are produced.

Converting 735 million tons of CO2 per year into newly planted trees yields a theoretical number of nearly 1,47 billion trees per year. Since not every seedling survives, a figure of +50% is more realistic to set a real CO2 compensation for passenger flights. This corresponds to about 2.2 billion trees per year and 184 million trees per month. Wow. That’s a lot, isn’t it? Now is the right time to start planting trees. Don’t you think so, too?

Travel & Tree is my dream how to make the world a better place.

I have lived in Central America and South East Asia for almost two years. I know about the natural beauty in these regions and I am also familiar with the challenges people have to manage every day. I think it is our responsibility to lower our global CO2 production, protect the existing rainforests, and also support reforestation – just to make other people’s life possible and not destroy their livelihood. If we don’t do change many regions in the world will get to lost for everybody of us. We cannot ignore the consequences of CO2 emissions.

Book cover SONNENLAUNE, author Irene Smetana

Personal recommendation

I have written a book.
SONNENLAUNE – 555 Tipps für einen schönen Urlaub.

It is a universal guide book with 555 tipps about how to travel save and healthy, how to avoid problems, fraud, sickness etc.
It’s availabe in German only (at the moment) and you can get both, e-book and softcover.

You can find more information on www.sonnenlaune.de

 

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