15 Easy Ways You Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

iStock/Zinkevych
iStock/Zinkevych

Imagine a landmass the size of the entire continent of Africa burning as a massive forest fire for an entire year. Such an enormous fire would release nearly 40 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—the same amount that human activity produces every year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2015 numbers. The scale at which we're pumping out CO2 is alarming, and it is all serving to trap heat on the planet and fuel climate change. Fortunately, there are small, easy steps everyone can take to reduce their personal carbon footprint (which you can calculate here).

1. Skip the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich …

Breakfast sandwich on table.
iStock/LauriPatterson

Your breakfast sandwich, while delicious, isn't eco-friendly. Livestock consume a lot of resources and release the greenhouse gas methane into the environment every time they burp and fart—which means animal products come at a high environmental cost. Add the toll that transporting and packaging the ingredients takes on the environment, and the average bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich comes out to about 1441 grams CO2 equivalent (a unit that measures global warming potential). For comparison, driving a car four miles produces about 1650 grams CO2 equivalent. Maybe grab some locally grown fruit the next time you're looking for a portable morning bite.

2. … and the grass-fed beef.

Cow in pasture.
iStock/VLIET

Grass-fed beef has been embraced by the organic food movement, leading some people to believe it's the better choice for the environment. But a 2017 report released by Oxford's Food Climate Research Network shows this isn't the case: Grass-fed cattle only accounts for 1 gram of protein, per person, per day, compared to 13 grams from all ruminants, which includes cows, sheep, and goats. Despite this, grass-fed cattle still contribute one-third of all the greenhouse gases produced by ruminants—and the carbon-absorbing pastures they graze in don't do much to offset that. But grain-fed, factory-farmed meat isn't much better for the environment, and it comes with a whole different set of concerns, so a better option is to cut meat from your diet where you can.

3. when you Fly, book coach seats.

Plane flying above the clouds.
iStock/den-belitsky

Traveling somewhere by plane is the quickest way to expand your carbon footprint. Just one round-trip flight between New York and Los Angeles produces about a fifth of the emissions your car creates in a year. The best option for the environment is to fly less or not at all, but this is unrealistic for some people. An alternative is to book your seats in coach. Because they're allotted less space, and therefore require less fuel, passengers flying economy are linked to three times fewer emissions than those flying in business class. Look at first class and the difference is even more dramatic: Those flyers account for nine times the carbon emissions of passengers in coach.

4. Shop for clothes at second-hand stores.

Browsing at a thrift store.
iStock/lechatnoir

Next time you have a moment alone, check the tags of the clothes you have on. Unless you're a mindful shopper, your wardrobe likely crossed thousands of miles before ending up in your possession. The resources that go into making a single garment also add up: According to a report from Dame Ellen MacArthur's foundation, the fashion industry produces 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Fortunately, there's an alternative to buying clothes from major chains that doesn't involve joining a nudist colony. Next time you need to replenish your closet, head to a second-hand store. Buying gently used clothing is better for the environment, and many thrift stores donate part of the proceeds to charitable causes.

5. Ride a Bike.

Biking next to a car on the road.
iStock/DragonImages

It's easy to see how biking can reduce your carbon footprint. While the typical passenger car releases about 404 grams of CO2 per mile, a bicycle emits zero. If you live in a bikeable city or in an area with mild weather year-round, a bike is a worthwhile investment. Even if a bike can't replace your car completely, for shorter trips it's a great way to be gentle on the environment while saving gas money and getting a cardio workout at the same time.

6. Turn down your thermostat.

Hand turning down the thermostat.
iStock/BanksPhotos

Heating your home in the winter is expensive, and it can also be a major contributor to your carbon footprint. Do the planet and your wallet a favor and turn down the thermostat by a degree or two when you're in the house. At night you should turn the heat down even lower, and when you're away you should turn it off altogether. Investing in a smart thermostat that senses when you're in the house and adjusts itself is another way to reduce your carbon emissions.

7. Hang your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer.

Clothes hanging up on clothesline.
iStock/druvo

If you have the yard space for a clothesline, take advantage of it. According to The Guardian, a household that uses a dryer 200 times a year could shrink its carbon footprint by roughly half a ton of CO2 by air-drying laundry instead. Even if you don't have the option to use a clothesline year-round, avoiding the dryer for just half your loads would make a difference.

8. Unplug the appliances when you're not using them.

Hand unplugging plug from socket.
iStock/Toa55

Just because an appliance is turned off doesn't mean it isn't consuming energy. According to How Stuff Works, the "phantom energy" zapped up by electronics that stay plugged into an outlet around the clock can account for 10 percent of your electric bill (which, if you factor it out, would be more than a free month's worth of electricity each year). If you can't stand plugging and unplugging every gadget around your home all day, try leaving appliances you don't use on a daily basis, like toasters, desk lamps, etc., unplugged and only power them up when you need them.

9. Reuse items whenever you can.

Cloth bags filled with groceries.
iStock/McIninch

Every piece of waste you toss in the garbage adds to your carbon footprint. You may not be able to bring your trash production down to nothing, but you can reduce it by investing in non-disposable goods that can withstand a bit of wear and tear. Reuseable shopping bags, food storage containers, coffee cups, and straws can replace many of the items that are often thrown away every day.

10. Switch out your old light bulbs for energy-saving ones.

Line of light bulbs against wall.
iStock/masterzphotois

If you still use incandescent bulbs to light your home, it's time to make a change. Incandescents use electricity inefficiently, adding money to your electricity bill and your home cooling expenses, thanks to the excess heat they generate. Energy Star-qualified light bulbs like CFLs (compact fluorescents) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are more energy-efficient than the average light bulb and last six times as long. If every household in America swapped just one regular light bulb for one of these options, we could reduce CO2 emissions by 9 billion pounds.

11. Carpool with your work buds.

Man and woman sitting in front seats of a car.
iStock/Zinkevych

For trips where biking isn't an option, see if you can find a friend. Car travel isn't great for the environment, but hitching a ride with someone going the same direction as you makes a much smaller impact than driving alone. Next time you're at work, look around the office for potential carpool buddies. And before your next night out with friends, suggest a system that doesn't involve everyone coming in a separate car.

12. Wash your clothes in cold water.

Adjusting settings on a washing machine.
iStock/spyderskidoo

One way to make your electric laundry machine a little gentler on the environment is to switch on the cold water setting. That simple change can reduce your washer's carbon emissions by 75 percent and save you $60 for every 300 loads of laundry you clean. And for lightly soiled clothing, cold water sanitizes just as well as a warm wash.

13. Use curtains for temperature control.

Woman opening curtains.
iStock/monkeybusinessimages

Curtains aren't just there for privacy—throughout the year, they can help lower your energy consumption. When the sun is hitting the house, keep your windows clear in the winter to take advantage of that free heat source, and close them during peak daylight hours during the summer (especially when you aren't at home). On winter nights, conserve energy by drawing your curtains closed and blocking the heat inside from leaking out, and either open your windows at night for a fresh breeze or close your curtains to keep the air conditioning in during the warmer months. Keep up these habits year-round and you'll see the difference in your heating and cooling bills.

14. Take shorter showers.

Woman washing her hair in the shower.
iStock/skynesher

You don't need to deprive yourself of the pleasure of a hot shower to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. According to Mother Jones, we would save 20.9 billion pounds of CO2 a year if we all shaved one minute off our shower sessions. If that change sounds easy for you, try taking the five-minute shower challenge for a week or two.

15. Plant a tree.

Parent and child planting a tree.
iStock/max-kegfire

One of the easiest ways to take care of the planet is also the most fun. Set aside an afternoon to plant a tree in your backyard and the benefits will last its whole life. A young tree absorbs roughly 13 pounds of CO2 per year and a mature tree can absorb 48 pounds. After 40 years, a tree will have sequestered 1 ton of carbon that would have otherwise contributed to global warming.

This list first ran in 2018 and was republished in 2019.

40 of the Most Interesting Trees Around the World

Northern Ireland's Dark Hedges
Northern Ireland's Dark Hedges
AndySG/iStock via Getty Images

Whether they bleed crimson sap or uncannily resemble human features, these 40 trees aren't your average oaks and elms.

1. Tree shaped like a hand

The stubby, leafless branches of an olive tree, outstretched and resembling a palm. A man has his palm outstretched next to it.
Ramzi Haidar, Getty Images

In 2009, a man from the southern Lebanese village of Hasbaya brought his 85-year-old olive tree to Beirut to be displayed. He believed its resemblance to an outstretched palm was miraculous and felt it should be shared with the public.

2. "World Famous Tree House"

Black and white image of two men standing in front of an enormous tree, with a door with a sign over it that says "See the inside no charge" and a hanging sign that proclaims "Fraternal Monarch."
Fox Photos/Getty Images

Recognized by Ripley's Believe It or Not! in the 1930s as "the tallest one-room house in the world," this redwood along northern California's Redwood Highway was hollowed out by a fire some 300 years ago. But it's still alive and thriving, and although no one lives there now, the inside is home to some small mechanical toys. Despite the Ripley's recognition, it doesn't appear that anyone actually lived in the house, though a road construction crew stayed there for a week in the 1920s when building the road. If you're in the area and want to see another interesting spot, check out the nearby Living Chimney Tree, which is similar (minus the mechanical diversions).

3. Chapel Oak

A towering oak tree with a spiral staircase and two chapels carved into it.
Ji-Elle, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

As the oldest known tree in France, Le Chêne Chapelle ("The Chapel Oak") in the village of Allouville-Bellefosse has been around for at least 800 years, and some say it dates all the way back to the reign of Charlemagne. Though lightning struck the tree and rendered its center hollow during the 1600s, the tree managed to survive. A local abbot decided to make use of the hollow by erecting a shrine to the Virgin Mary inside; a second chapel and a staircase were later added. Sadly, the Chapel Oak isn't doing so well these days: Parts of the tree, including its 33-foot trunk, have died, and shingles cover the trunk where the bark is missing.

4. Ray Bradbury's Halloween Tree at Disneyland

In 1972, Ray Bradbury wrote the critically acclaimed novel The Halloween Tree. In 2007, the tree was brought to life at Disneyland as part of its annual Halloween celebrations. The placement is fitting: Bradbury has long been a part of Disney history, from narrating Epcot’s Spaceship Earth ride to writing the screenplay for the Disney films Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.

The oak, located outside of the Golden Horseshoe Saloon, is festooned with lights and adorned with hand-painted pumpkins.

5. Dragon Blood Tree

A large, mushroom-cloud shaped tree with reddish, vein-like branches.
Khaled Fazaa, Getty Images

The dragon blood tree, native to Yemen, doesn't just look cool from the outside—it also "bleeds" red sap. Because of its crimson color, it's been speculated that the dragon's blood sap was used to give Stradivarius violins their distinct hue.

6. Rainbow Eucalyptus

It's easy to see why this tree has such a colorful name, but how it gets its bright streaks is not as easy to explain. The ever-changing colors are due to the evolving bark of the eucalyptus. As the bark grows, it exfoliates thin layers of tissue, and as the layers peel off, the fresh, lime green bark underneath is revealed. As the exposed bark ages, it changes to dark green, then blue-purple, then pink-orange. The final stage before exfoliation starts again is a brownish-maroon hue, so the rainbow colors are really just different natural stages of bark development.

7. Angel Oak

The old and historic Angel Oak Tree near Johns Island in South Carolina
Michael Ver Sprill, Getty Images

At 65 feet tall and 28 feet in circumference, this massive oak tree on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina, provides shade to an area of about 17,000 square feet. Oak trees usually grow up instead of out, but since this one is somewhere between 400 and 500 years old, it has had plenty of time to do both. The Angel Oak gets its name from former owners Justus and Martha Waight Tucker Angel, but the tree is now owned by the City of Charleston.

8. The Hangman's Elm

The oldest living tree in Manhattan may also be the most notorious. Located in the northwest corner of Washington Square Park, the elm stands at nearly 110 feet tall and is estimated to be 330 years old. Though there are no public records to support it, the tree is said to have been used for hundreds of public hangings, from Revolutionary War traitors to prisoners from the nearby Newgate State Prison.

9. Bike in a Tree

A tree embedded in the bark of a tree.
Sean O'Neill, Flickr // CC BY-ND-2.0

There's a sad story that goes along with this bike that has been overtaken by a tree with an appetite: it's said that a young boy who lived on Vashon Island, Washington, left his bike leaning against the trunk in 1914, then went off to war and never came back to retrieve it. Fortunately, that story is made-up. The real story, according to resident Helen Puz, isn't quite so heartstring-tugging.

In 1954, Puz's 8-year-old son Don inherited a girl's bike. He wasn't too happy about riding it, so when the bike somehow got "misplaced," Don didn't look too hard for it. Fast-forward 40 years, when Puz read an article in the local paper about a bike that had been lifted five feet off the ground by a tree that grew up around it. She checked it out, and realized that Don's long-lost bike had been found.

10. Crooked Trees in Poland

The 400 50-foot pine trees near Gryfino, Poland, which are believed to have been planted in the early 1930s, bend sharply at the trunk in a manner that has scientists baffled. If the structure was the result of a genetic mutation, the trees would curve in places other than the base. And if the cause was environmental—say, snow weighing down the trunks as they were newly formed—then surrounding trees of the same type and age should have been similarly affected. One hypothesis is that local farmers manipulated the trees to curve for furniture purposes, but were prevented from harvesting them when World War II broke out.

11. The Sunland Baobab

A group of people stand in a line in front of a very wide baobab tree
South African Tourism, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

With a circumference of 154 feet, the Sunland Baobab in Modjadjiskloof, South Africa, was once famous for being the widest Baobab in the world. Carbon-dated at around 1700 years old, the tree began to hollow out at around 1000 years old—which made it perfect for a small bar inside. Sadly, a large branch representing about one-third of the tree split off in 2016, causing a lot of damage and permanently closing the bar inside.

12. Thimmamma Marrimanu

It’s said that this 200-year-old Banyan tree in Andhra Pradesh, India, is named for a widow named Thimmamma who threw herself onto her husband’s funeral pyre in 1433. Her sacrifice caused one of the poles to grow into the giant tree it is today, covering five acres of land and putting down 4000 prop roots. Today, couples pray at the tree for fertility, and anyone who removes its leaves is said to be cursed.

13. Strangler Fig

Strangler fig growing up the trunk of a tall host tree to reach the light above the rainforest canopy
KarenHBlack/iStock via Getty Images

The lattice on the tree above may be beautiful, but it's also deadly: the intricate pattern is actually the strangler fig slowly squeezing the life out of the tree it envelops. The fig tree grows when a bird or other animal drops its sticky seed in the branches of another tree. The seed is able to thrive on the tree's surface, and as it grows, its long roots reach down the host tree and, eventually, into the ground. The strangler fig can be found in tropical and subtropical zones, and is a frequent sight in southern Florida and the Keys.

14. Monkey Puzzle Tree

A photo of the monkey puzzle tree
Krasimir Kanchev/iStock via Getty Images

The national tree of Chile is certainly a distinctive one. Though the Araucaria araucana is more pyramid-shaped when it's young, it becomes rather top-heavy as it ages—and it can really age. Monkey puzzle trees can live to be up to 2000 years old and reach heights of about 164 feet. As a conifer, it produces edible cones called piñones. Now, about that unusual name: Legend has it that in the 1850s, when the trees were becoming popular as decorative plantings in English gardens, noted lawyer Charles Austin looked at one and remarked, "It would puzzle a monkey to climb that."

15. The Boab Prison Tree

A stout, thick tree with a skinny, vertical knothole in the middle. It's surrounded by a fence.
Martin Kraft, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

There's a dark legend surrounding this unique boab tree in Western Australia: It's said that the tree's human-sized knothole made it the perfect prison cell during the 1890s, when prisoners were on their way to Derby for sentencing. Although the tree is on the State Heritage Register as "prison boab tree" and the signage around the tree acknowledges this supposed history, there doesn't appear to be much evidence for the tree being used as a cage.

16. Buddha in a Tree

A head from a Buddha statue entwined in tree roots.
ironypoisoning, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

No one is quite sure how this Buddha head got so perfectly entwined in the roots of this tree at the Wat Mahathat temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand, but there are plenty of theories. The statue was likely decapitated in 1767, when the Burmese army invaded and destroyed the ancient temple. The temple was abandoned until the 1950s, when restoration work began, and that's when the statue head was discovered. One theory is that the perfect juxtaposition happened to occur naturally when the statue piece fell within the tree roots just right. Another is that a thief placed it there to hide it in the 1900s, which is when part of the temple collapsed because of treasure hunters.

However it happened, the head is there to stay—a guard is now stationed nearby to make sure that no souvenir-hunting tourists gets too grabby.

17. Wonderboom

The Wonderboom, or “Tree of Wonder,” is a 1000-year-old fig tree in Pretoria, South Africa. The tree is certainly impressive in size, standing 82 feet tall and boasting 13 trunks, but it also looms large in legend, too. Local lore says that an ancient chief buried at the base of the tree is what made it grow so extraordinarily large. As massive as the tree is now, it was once even bigger; in 1870, it was damaged in a fire started by a hunting party.

18. Árbol de tule

At more than 32 feet in diameter and about 114 in height, the Árbol del Tule in the town of Santa María del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico, is considered to be the broadest tree in the world. In fact, the Montezuma cypress is so stout that scientists once thought it was actually a few trees that had somehow merged together, but modern testing has revealed that the 1500-year-old tree really is just a single trunk.

19. Cypress Tree Tunnel

Cypress Tree Tunnel at Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
Manel Vinuesa/iStock via Getty Images

Planted sometime around 1930, this Monterey cypress tunnel at Point Reyes National Seashore, a park reserve in Marin County, California, marks a historic wireless transmission site that still stands today.

20. The Circus Trees

In 1947, a Swedish-American farmer named Axel Erlandson turned his tree-shaping hobby into a tourist attraction. Erlandson, who had a knack for creating living art with trees and plants, was constantly experimenting with grafting trees together and encouraging multiple trunks to grow into one. When he had 60 to 70 fairly mature examples of artfully twisted trunks and branches, he dug them up and relocated them near Santa Cruz, California. The attraction garnered some attention from Ripley's Believe It or Not! and LIFE magazine, and in 1963, Erlandson sold his grove of "Circus Trees." Sadly, he passed away in 1964 without telling anyone how he shaped the trees. "I talk to them," he was fond of telling anyone who asked.

Though they've passed from owner to owner through the years, these days, the trees are a main attraction at the Gilroy Gardens theme park.

21. Dark Hedges

They're just beech trees, but the gnarled, foreboding tunnel they form has turned them into one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. The trees—about 150 of them—were planted 200 years ago by the Stuart family, who wanted to create an intimidating entrance to their home. Known as "the Dark Hedges," the cluster of trees have made a handful of appearances in TV shows and movies, incuding Game of Thrones. Hoping to keep the trees healthy for another two centuries, the Department of Infrastructure recently banned vehicles from driving on the road. That, of course, didn't stop powerful winds from uprooting one of the trees in early 2019.

22. Hyperion

The world’s tallest living tree, Hyperion looms nearly 380 feet tall in California’s Redwood National Park. That’s about 75 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, from the base of the pedestal to the tip. If it wasn’t for woodpecker damage near the top of the tree, Hyperion could have been even taller. Unless you’re in the know, you’ll probably never see Hyperion; its exact location has been kept secret to protect it from vandals.

23. Windblown Trees of New Zealand

These macrocarpa (a type of cypress) trees in New Zealand may look like they're windblown, but they retain their extreme angles even on a calm day. The strange bend is the result of saplings surviving and thriving in the windy environment. The manager of the farm where the trees live says their photogenic branches conceal a secret—the ruins of a house that sheep now use for shelter.

24. The Scream Tree

A tree trunk with 3 knotholes resembling two eyes and a mouth open in a scream.
Pleuntje, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

This tree in the Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen nature reserve near Ghent, Belgium has knotholes that makes it resemble Edvard Munch's 1893 painting The Scream.

25. The Tree of Life

Tree of Life on Kalaloch Beach, Washington
Gerardo Martinez Cons/iStock via Getty Images

Also known as the Tree Root Cave, this tree, located in Olympic National Park near Kalaloch, Washington, has managed to survive even though erosion has removed most of its support system.

26. The Lone Cypress

A lone Cypress tree stands on a rocky outpost just off the cliffside coast of Monterey, California
By Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Located on the Monterey Peninsula in California, the Monterey Cypress is said to be the most photographed tree in North America . Believed to be more than 250 years old, the single cypress tree clings to a rocky outcrop that juts out into the water. Sadly, the tree lost a major limb when it was damaged in a 2019 storm.

27. Cashew of pirangi

If you’re a fan of cashews, this tree near Natal, Brazil, is your dream come true. Covering about two acres, what feels like a forest is actually the world’s largest cashew tree. A genetic mutation caused the branches to grow out instead of up, and when the branches eventually touch the ground, they root, causing the single tree to spread outward into a cashew wonderland.

28. The Banyan Tree in Lahaina, Maui

The large knotty trunk and canopy of a banyan tree in Lahaina Maui
Hotaik Sung iStock via Getty Images

On April 24, 1873, Sheriff William Owen Smith of Lahaina planted an 8-foot Banyan tree to honor the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission there. Residents encouraged the tree’s aerial roots to grow symmetrically by hanging glass jars filled with water from the branches they wanted to descend. And under their watchful eyes, the tree now stands more than 60 feet high and has 46 major trunks. It’s now the largest Banyan tree in the U.S.

29. Methuselah Bristlecone Pine

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree in California White Mountains Inyo National Forest
hlsnow iStock via Getty Images

Named for the biblical figure that lived to be nearly 1000, the Methuselah Bristlecone Pine in the Inyo National Forest in Eastern California is almost five times as old. Thought to be around 4800 years old, Methuselah has survived extreme elevations and winds to become the second-oldest tree in the world. (Old Tjikko in Sweden is the winner at 9500 years.)

30. The Ashbrittle Yew

An ancient yew tree stands behind grave markers
By Martin Bodman, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

At up to 4000 years old, this yew tree in the village of Ashbrittle in Somerset, England, is ancient—predating even Stonehenge. The seven-trunked tree stands in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist, but maybe not for much longer. Half of the branches appear to be dead, and locals fear the yew may be battling a disease. But you don’t live to be several thousand years old without surviving a few rough patches: A tree doctor in the area says it will likely be just fine.

31. Major Oak

A large oak with dozens of limbs supported by beams.
travellinglight iStock via Getty Images

Move over, Robin Hood: the Major Oak is the real star of Sherwood Forest. The biggest oak tree in Britain, the Major Oak weighs an estimated 23 tons and has a trunk circumference of more than 36 feet and a canopy spread of 91 feet. Its popularity as a tourist attraction caused officials to add supports and fence the area off in the 1970s, so you can’t camp beneath it as Robin Hood was rumored to have done—but you can still get a pretty decent selfie.

32. Isaac Newton's Apple Tree

In 1666, as the story goes, Isaac Newton was relaxing under a tree when an apple detached from its branch and beaned Newton on the noggin, dislodging the theory of gravity from his brain. According to the U.K. National Trust, you can see the very tree that inspired Newton at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, England. Though a storm blew the tree down in 1820, the Trust says the tree remained rooted and re-grew from the base, and that tree is the one still standing at Woolsthorpe—and dendrochronology confirms that it’s the right age.

33. Cedars of god

A valley of cedar trees in Lebanon.
ahmed abdelsalam iStock via Getty Images

Cedar trees are synonymous with Lebanon. While the mountains were once thick with the ancient trees, deforestation and climate change have reduced their numbers—while the remaining copses growing higher up the mountainside to chase the cooler climates they prefer. Only 10 square miles of cedars remain in Lebanon; its most famous patch, Cedars of God, has been fenced off and preserved since 1876.

34. Buttonball tree

The locals in Sunderland, Massachusetts, claim this 113-foot American sycamore is the "widest tree east of the Mississippi." A plaque proudly proclaims that the tree “lived here at the time of the signing of our Constitution,” and it has been estimated that it’s anywhere from 350 to 400 years old.

35. General Sherman

The largest single stem tree in the world, a sequoia in California
bluejayphoto iStock via Getty Images

California’s Sequoia National Park boasts the largest tree in the world by volume. The 2300 to 2700-year-old-tree was discovered by naturalist James Wolverton in 1879; he named for Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, under whom Wolverton had served. In 2006, General Sherman’s largest branch—bigger than most tree trunks—broke off, smashing the perimeter fence and cratering the walkway below. There were no witnesses to the event, and it’s not believed that the incident is an indication of poor health in the tree.

36. Caesarsboom

The Caesarsboom in Lo, Belgium, isn’t that impressive to look at—it’s a yew tree, and it’s lovely, but it’s certainly not massive in height or girth or volume. Its one claim to fame, however, is that during his travels to Britain, Julius Caesar once tied his horse to it while he had a drink. Modern historians have no way to ascertain whether this story has any basis in fact but, as Atlas Obscura points out, the city is crossed by what was once the Roman highway.

37. Son of tree that owns itself

A photograph of the Son of Tree That Owns Itself
By Bloodofox, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

To understand the Son of Tree That Owns Itself in Athens, Georgia, you have to know the story of its “father.” Sometime between 1820 and 1832, Colonel William Henry Jackson deeded a white oak tree on his property—to itself. As the story goes, he had fond childhood memories of the tree and wanted to reward it. The tree entered local legend, even receiving an engraved plaque with its story on it. Sadly, Tree That Owns Itself fell into decline in the early 1900s after suffering natural erosion and damage from an ice storm, and toppled over on October 9, 1942. Luckily, people saw the tree’s demise coming and gathered acorns to produce saplings. Hence, Son of Tree That Owns Itself was planted on the same spot on December 4, 1946.

38. Tāne Mahuta

Giant kauri tree
The World Traveller iStock via Getty Images

Tāne Mahuta, Maorian for “Lord of the Forest,” is the largest kauri tree in New Zealand. The 148-foot-tall tree, estimated to be up to 2500 years old, is one of the last remnants of an ancient subtropical rainforest on the North Auckland Peninsula. According to Maori mythology, "Tāne is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother. Tāne was the child that tore his parents' parental embrace and once done set about clothing his mother in the forest we have here today. All living creatures of the forest are regarded as Tāne's children.

39. Callixylon tree stump

Callixylon tree stump
Brad Holt // CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

The next time you find yourself on the campus of East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, take a peek at the tree stump located at the entrance. The petrified stump there belongs to a Callixylon tree, a long-extinct species with fern-like leaves. Estimated to be 250 million years old, the stump was discovered at a nearby farm and was donated to ECU after a brief scuffle with the Smithsonian.

40. The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree

A sacred fig, the Sri Maha Bodhi is said to be the exact spot where Gautama Buddha, the Supreme Buddha, found enlightenment. Many trees have since been propagated from the original Bodhi tree, and several of them are now the center of worship themselves—including the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It’s said to be the oldest-living human-planted tree in existence and was propagated in 288 B.C.

This Ingenious Kit Allows You to Turn Used Bottles Into New Soap Dispensers

Unicow, Kickstarter
Unicow, Kickstarter

A million plastic bottles are produced every minute—the overwhelming majority of which aren't recycled. A new product raising money on Kickstarter finds a use for old bottles destined for the trash while simultaneously satisfying a need for new ones. Meet the Unicow.

The Unicow is a kit that allows anyone to upcycle a used bottle into a liquid soap dispenser. A suction cup and strap secure the bottle to the wall above your sink (or wherever you choose to place it) and a soft, squeezable pump makes it easy to squirt the soap into your hands or onto a sponge. It works with plastics, like old soap dispensers, water bottles, and soda bottles, as well as glass containers. Even heavier items like glass wine and liquor bottles are compatible with the system.

Unicow not only repurposes old bottles, but it can also be a sustainable replacement for single-use soap dispensers. According to the project's crowdfunding page, the Coca-Cola company makes enough plastic bottles in a single day to replace all the soap dispensers in the U.S.

After launching a campaign on Kickstarter on November 7, Unicow has raised a little over $700 of its $14,784 goal. You can contribute to the effort and reserve a kit of your own by pledging $20 before December 7.

But limiting plastic waste shouldn't stop with the Unicow soap dispenser. Companies like Method and Puracy offer soap refill pouches—so you don't need to buy a new bottle each time you run out—that help reduce plastic, water, and energy waste. 

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