A teen calls on companies to help protect the environment. This one is

PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/EcoMatcher

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Hong Kong student Elodie Lambotte is passionate about protecting the environment, and she has an entertaining way of getting her green message across.

“This is Jack,” says the 13-year-old, pulling out a hairy orange orangutan puppet from her bag. “'I dream of a world where forests are not shrinking but are growing,' Jack says.” Elodie, who is originally from Belgium, is also passionate about ventriloquism.

The orangutan is an apt choice. Found only in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo, the great apes are classified as critically endangered. The biggest threats to their existence include habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade.

To show how today’s youth — and, of course, animals — dream of a greener future, Elodie approached EcoMatcher with a video message, together with her Jack, mentioning she loved EcoMatcher so much and to offer any support.

“I made the video because I want leaders of companies to get inspired and, most importantly, to take action,” she explains.

Hong Kong-based EcoMatcher, a firm that plants trees worldwide for companies and allows people to plant, gift and track trees virtually on its digital platform, did just that.

When its CEO, Bas Fransen, saw Elodie’s video, he reached out and together they created I Have a Dream, a video where Elodie — and Jack — talk about a world “with clean and fresh air to breathe, and trash-free beaches.” A world, she says, where she wakes to the sound of birds, trees, and nature.

“As a social enterprise in the sustainability space, we have a responsibility to give Elodie and her peers an opportunity to be part of the solution in relation to climate change,” he says.

EcoMatcher has also been working hard to be part of the solution. “We are two years into our journey, and have planted over half a million trees through our partnerships with carefully selected tree-planting organisations around the world,” says Fransen, Trees are vital, he says, as forests draw out pollutants and carbon from the air, supply life-giving oxygen and help reduce global temperatures.

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A key element of its business, Fransen says, is to bring engagement with tree planting. “Through our platform we know of every tree that is planted, whether it’s in Peru or in Uganda or in Indonesia,” he says — EcoMatcher is active in 13 countries. “We know, for example, the precise location, the date of planting, the species, who the farmer is and its carbon sequestration.”

Reforestation is also vital to millions of people who rely on forests for agriculture, medicine and shelter, and tree planting empowers local communities by rejuvenating land that supports income-generating farming.

“Through tree planting, we’re also helping to elevate people’s lives. So there are many social elements,” Fransen says.

There are good reasons for companies to integrate tree planting into their business and gift a tree instead of plastic pens, USB sticks or unwanted plastic knick-knacks that often end up in landfill.

It not only saves money — the price of planting a tree through EcoMatcher is about the same as buying a cappuccino — but also helps companies reach their corporate social responsibility goals while building relationships with employees and customers.

For more details, visit ecomatcher.com.

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.