Trees Instead, founded and run by Daniel Diaz (Civil Engineer) & Pablo G. Martinez (business grad), is a fantastic business that’s doing good in the world, one tree at a time, by planting trees as memorials, honorariums and gifts. I’m continually impressed by their work and generosity. And, since I found them on twitter, I became even more intrigued by the web and social media slant of their business – so I asked for an interview, and of course, they obliged. Here ’tis.
Writing Roads: How did you get started? What was your inspiration, motivation, raison d’etre?
Trees Instead: In 2001, a dear friend of ours passed away after a long battle with cancer. At his funeral, the family made the request to donate money to the American cancer society in lieu of Flowers. Instead, we decided to make a picture slide of all the good times we had with him. We noticed that our best memory was a camping trip we all did to a national park while in college. We called the park and had a tree planted there in his memory; we then made a certificate and give it to his Mother…she loved it. Then the funeral director who was present at that time asked us if we could do one for another family…the rest is HISTORY.
We noticed that the available services for memorial tree planting were very impersonal, so we did some research and made our business plan with the mission to have a service that would be elegant, original and sustainable. We put our savings in and 100,000+ trees later – here we are! We now plant trees in all 50 states, Canada, The Amazon & Israel.
Writing Roads: How do you use social media for your business? How do you use your blog? (I know blogs are part of soc med, but I just wanted to make sure you talked about both…)
Trees Instead: We are in the business of making green trendy & thoughtful, to position our service/product as a unique experience for both sender & receiver. We’ve found that social media is the best way to let people know about us. There are many tree planting companies, and they are in it for many reasons we are – the “end result of the service,” the satisfaction of going green & doing it in an elegant & original way. Blogs & social media engines like Facebook & Twitter allow us to get in touch with the people on a one by one basis and have a long term relationship that will end up with us positioning our service in their minds.
Writing Roads: Any thoughts on the importance of content to your business? (The writing in particular…)
Trees Instead: Well there is an ongoing debate about global warming and the need for sustainable living. We like to stay out of the debate. The extremists & alarmists about global warming are not doing any good for their own cause and those who think nothing is wrong are in lala land. A business like ours enjoys the balance of doing good actions for the environment while facing one absolute truth: “Sustainable living is good for the wallet, the earth & future generations…. No matter what.”
Writing Roads: Do you have an opinion on the difference (benefits, hardships) of running a nonprofit web business as opposed to a for profit biz?
Trees Instead: We’re a not-for-profit because we like the freedom of decision we have with an LLC – there’s little bureaucracy. Nevertheless, we use our income not only to plant trees, but to find ways to make sustainable reforestation projects in developing countries. I admire organizations like the Arbor Day Foundation or American Forests, but I don’t want the government, a board, nor powerful activists telling us how to act, what to believe ad how to live our dream. We do miss the grants and goodies available to non-profits, yet we don’t want to be huge, just big enough to matter.
Writing Roads: Anything I missed that you want to say?
Trees Instead: Well, we really appreciate your generosity. Also, we like to support any group or cause that makes sense – our only enemies are ignorance & narrow minded people. Daniel is on the liberal side of things and Pablo is the Conservative, yet, we don’t let media or agendas dictate common sense.
Keep up the good work, Daniel and Pablo – knowing people like you exist in the world helps me sleep better at night…Thanks!!!