Check Out This App That Grows Trees When You Stay Off Your Phone

Climate anxiety got you down lately? Me too. Sometimes a stressful day is made even worse when you see another report that shows rising sea temperature and the waning life of another crucial ecosystem (anyone else feel super depressed when they heard about the Amazon rainforest?). Often, the worst part about it is feeling so helpless. Like there’s nothing in your power you can do to fix the problem. As a college student, you’re already dealing with so many responsibilities: work, class, extracurriculars, having a life. We tend to live based on what’s most convenient because we don’t have time for anything else. And what’s most convenient isn’t usually what’s best for the environment. 

But then I found something that eased my mind a little and gave me an easy way to do some good for the environment and myself. It’s called Forest. Forest is a new app that will grow a digital tree, when you stay off your phone for a certain period of time, and reward you with virtual currency that you can then use to purchase and grow real trees. Not only does it help you stay focused on your homework but also helps pull CO2 out of the atmosphere. The trees that you buy with your Forest coins are planted by Maryland non-profit Trees for the Future. The company works with rural farming families in Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda and trains them in reforestation and cultivation. At the time this article was written, the Forest website reported 573,107 trees planted by their company and partners.   

Here’s how it works: When you start growing your “tree” the app will set a timer for however long you want to stay focused. Then, you have to stay on the tree-growing screen for the tree to keep growing. If you leave the app in any way your tree will die and then you lose out on your rewards. Once you save up enough coins, you can buy a tree! Each app user is limited to 5 real tree plantings due to limited funds, but you can always donate your own money to the foundation to help their tree-planting efforts. They do run specials sometimes that’ll allow you to buy additional trees with your coins as well. So get focused and get growing!