The Peak embarks on a rescue mission to save Mother Earth together with Double A and the Malaysian Nature Society.
“You poor unfortunate soul! It’s sad, but true,” sings a cackling sea-witch in a classic animated movie from the 1980s. While she may have been referring to cursed sea creatures, the sentiment quite rightly sheds light on the current state of society’s relationship with nature. Numerous studies estimate a 22 to 40 per cent loss of flora species by 2050; the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that 13 per cent of plant species are endangered, while the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) concluded that, in the last 50 years, the Earth’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, lost 17 per cent of its forest cover to farms and ranches.
Felled trees as a result of illegal deforestation
The situation back home is no less worrying. A century ago, Malaysia was blanketed with trees standing tall for almost 130 million years, but in its strive for economic prosperity, forests shrank as commercial rubber and palm plantations took over. Despite being recognised as one of the 12 most megadiverse nations in the world in the 2001 Global Diversity Outlook (with an estimate of over 170,000 species in its forests), illegal logging proved to be a constant threat. All hope is not lost, though, as about 18.27 million hectares of land is still forest, harbouring an estimated 185,000 species of fauna and 12,500 species of flowering plants.
An indifferent attitude to the fragility of the ecosystem prevails, however, as many are unaware of how dire the situation has become. As such, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), together with Double A, is asking: “Can you imagine a world without trees?” It’s quite a scary prospect once you give it a thought. As an illustration, take a look at The Unfortunate Tales of a Treeless World, a campaign created by MNS in collaboration with Young & Rubicam that turns beloved classic fairytales on its head. Placing them in a land devoid of trees, Pinocchio is no longer an innocent wooden puppet; Tarzan fatally mistakes an electrical wire for a vine, while Little Red Riding Hood meets a bloody end.
Shocking as it may seem, the campaign is effectively pragmatising the issue, making it all too real in our own lives. Now that we’re aware of the situation, what can be done to stop it? This is where Double A, the copy paper brand, steps in with 1Dream1Tree, an ingenious initiative of producing paper using Paper Trees from khan-na, the vacant spaces between rice fields in Thailand largely left unused after the harvest. Seeing the precious land go to waste while the planet loses a football pitch-sized piece of forest every 90 seconds led Double A to introduce this campaign, a unique agro-forestry practice that utilises the unused land by planting trees specially designated for making paper; local farmers benefit by making an additional income when they sell them back to Double A.
The khan-na flourishing with Paper Trees
“I remember running outside when it was pouring, just to feel the rain on my skin,” reminisces Thirawit Leetavorn, Senior Executive Vice President of Double A. “We can’t do that anymore with pollutants in the air poisoning the rain. The dream is to bring back the simple act of just being out in nature and enjoying it, and this is realised by planting these trees through the programme.” MNS is fully on board to help make this dream come true. “Though it may seem like an immediate benefit for the Thai people, we should understand that what happens in one place will affect another,” says Henry Goh, President of MNS. “We support the cause of increasing the amount of green on the planet and people must understand that trees give life. They give us precious oxygen and keep us cool. Collectively, as a species, we must do what we can to put a halt to this. We hope more corporate companies will come out in support and replenish the planet with more trees.”
While that might seem optimistic, Leetavorn sees the benefit in businesses aligning themselves with environmental agencies. “Consumers today are becoming aware of their surroundings and beginning to question where their products actually come from. It’s unavoidable. You need to be able to show the public that you have a sustainable policy.” He elaborates: “From a business point, you get to maintain a constant flow of resources and build customer confidence. It all comes together, making perfect sense.”
Senior Executive Vice President of Double A, Thirawit Leetavorn with Henry Goh, President of Malaysia Nature Society
To date, an impressive 55,000 trees have been donated and Double A is inviting Malaysians to join in the rescue mission. Until the end of September, each ream of Double A 80gsm paper will have a unique QR code on the packaging that activates the planting of a Double A Paper Tree when scanned with a smartphone. Each user will be able to track the location and progress of the tree planted through the company’s website and app. “It’s really not that difficult – take a picture and voilà! You’ve planted a tree,” Leetavorn shares. “What’s special about this is that it urges people to start questioning other products they use – ‘Where does my phone come from?’, ‘What’s in this ink in my pen?’ – and you become aware of your impact as an individual. By simply making a slight change to your consumption habit, you will make a net positive change in the world.”
A simple scan of the QR code with your smartphone to start the tree planting process
Going back to Leetavorn’s dream, he asks: “Do you want to leave the world bare and devastated? Or do you want to leave it like when I was a child, laying in the shade of a tree and running on the grass?” The opportunity to make a change is here today. Think about it and make the right choice.
The Unfortunate Tales of a Treeless World is currently on exhibit at the South Court of Mid Valley Megamall until 21 August. Visit facebook.com/DoubleA.Malaysia for further details of the 1Dream1Tree programme.