A New Initiative Backed by SZA Wants to Plant More Trees in Detroit

The singer joins Tazo Tea Co. and American Forests to combat environmental issues in BIPOC communities
SZA, pictured above, is an ambassador for the Tazo Tree Corps. program // Image courtesy of Tazo Tree Corps

It’s been widely reported how environmental issues disproportionally affect people of color. According to a story by The Atlantic, a 2018 study from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Environmental Assessment found that people of color are more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air. Meanwhile, a 2020 paper on residential housing segregation reports that areas predominantly inhabited by BIPOC have 20 percent fewer trees on average than white communities.

To combat alarming statistics like these, last month, singer-songwriter SZA, Tazo Tea Co., and nonprofit American Forests announced a new initiative to help BIPOC communities most impacted by discriminatory housing practices and climate change. And they want you to help.

Called the Tazo Tree Corps, the program will work with teams led by The Davey Tree Expert Co. in Detroit; Minneapolis; San Francisco; Richmond, Virginia; and The Bronx, New York to bring more trees to each area. The benefits of trees are exponential. According to recent data published by American Forests, trees across the U.S. absorb 1.4 million tons of air pollutants and can increase air and water quality, improve mental health, lower energy costs, and more.

“Across the country, BIPOC communities are facing the worst effects of climate change because they live in neighborhoods that are disproportionately burdened with more pollutants and fewer trees,” says Sza, who is serving as an ambassador for the program, in a press release. “Planting trees can help improve everything — from air quality to economic opportunity to mental health — and everybody deserves these benefits. I’m proud to partner with Tazo and American Forests to stand up for environmental justice and start making an impact in neighborhoods that need it the most.”

The Davey Tree Expert Co. will hire five full-time Tazo Tree Corps fellows in Detroit. Applicants can apply online, and they must be at least 21 years of age and identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color living in the city. The fellows, who will work together over the next two years, begin work this spring and will receive two to three weeks of paid urban forestry training.

For more information and to get involved, visit tazo.com.