scrap car, plant tree

For consumers coming to terms with years of driving a gas-guzzling, carbon-producing clunker car, there is a solution – trade it in for fresh, young saplings. That's the premise for a program in the United Kingdom, where owners can turn in their gas guzzler and have tree groves planted in return.

"Scrap Car, Plant Tree" is run by the UK nonprofit organization Trees for Cities. The program offers restitution for the damage that cars do to the environment. Car owners can help repair the damage by having trees planted with the funds raised from the scrap metal or auction value of the vehicle. According to the website, "One scrap car plants about 13 trees on average while an auction car could plant a whole grove!"

The Trees for Cities initiative is similar to "Trees for Trade-Ins," launched early last year in Colorado by car dealers and the Colorado Clean the Air Foundation. Drivers trading in old cars received a nice tax deduction, and made a contribution to helping trees being planted in communities affected by natural disasters.

Nissan launched a similar program in Japan last year with the establishment of its Zero Emission Fund. Nissan Leaf drivers could earn CO2 "offset credits" that could later be sold by Nissan and the profits invested in both EV-charging infrastructure and forest-conservation efforts.

While it's not an EV, Smart wanted to acknowledge the difference its tiny Fortwo car was making in carbon offsetting through its fuel efficiency (33 city/41 highway miles per gallon for the coupe). It was launched in the US market in January 2008 and sold 24,622 units that first year. Before sales later tanked, the US distributor celebrated by teaming up with conservation group American Forests to plant an equal number of trees.

Experts say that global warming and climate change could be reversed by reducing carbon emissions and increasing tree plantings. At the very least, trading in a smog-spewing gas guzzler for oxygen-producing trees can bring peace of mind.