After meeting their goal to plant 1M trees three years early, Bulleit and American Forests are now focused on improving tree equity in communities that need it most — starting with two in Houston, Texas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey.
The Bulleit Distilling Co says it has been mindful of processes that reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and manage waste during production since its creation. In addition to its focus on advancing tree equity across the country, a carbon-neutral distillery powered by 100 percent renewable electricity, opened in Lebanon, Kentucky in 2021; and eliminating single-use plastics and sourcing organic cocktail garnishes from the onsite garden at the BDC’s Visitor Experience Center are among the brand’s recent sustainability initiatives.
American Forests is on a mission to achieve full tree equity across the US by 2030. To help select areas in need, American Forests developed a one-of-a-kind Tree Equity Score — a tool that indicates whether a neighborhood has enough tree cover for people to fully experience the benefits trees provide. The scores are based on tree canopy, surface temperature, income, employment, race, age and health factors. According to the tool, nearly 80 percent of urban neighborhoods have inadequate tree cover. In addition to Bulleit, the nonprofit has joined forces with brands including Eddie Bauer, Tazo and Timberland to advance its 2030 goal.
In 2020, Bulleit and American Forests partnered to replenish the population of White Oak trees — a key species for wildlife, water conservation and forest products; and one whose barrels Bulleit credits for bringing unique flavors and aromas to its whiskey — across the US. Together, they surpassed their ambitious goal of planting one million trees, three years ahead of schedule. These million trees are expected to remove 74,000 pounds of pollutants from the air and conserve over 75 million gallons of water in years to come. Since then, Bulleit and American Forests have adopted a new goal of supporting and improving tree equity in urban communities.
Now, the partnership has focused on improving tree equity to directly improve areas that need trees most. The first planting is in the community of Cottage Grove in downtown Houston, which was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Volunteers helped plant 85 trees along TC Jester Boulevard near White Oak Bayou to help mitigate future flood risks, and provide shade for hiking and biking trails that will increase access to green space for the neighborhood. In addition, Bulleit is supporting the planting of trees in the Willow Waterhole Greenway Conservancy — a neighborhood that needs more trees in order for residents to experience the full health, climate and economic benefits trees provide. Bulleit and American Forests partnered with Trees for Houston to activate their mission at the local level.
The whiskey distiller has also partnered with the nonprofit Street Art for Mankind, in support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in their rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems across the world, as part of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Street Art for Mankind created the Ecosystem Restoration Murals project — a global effort led by UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization — which will see tje installation of 50 murals created by prominent street artists across the world that highlight the crucial need for the protection and revival of ecosystems.
“Bulleit has been a tremendous partner to American Forests, and we’re grateful and inspired by the company’s decision to expand its focus on tree equity in such an innovative way,” said American Forests president and CEO Jad Daley. “Not only are we planting urban trees together — thanks to Bulleit’s support of Street Art for Mankind and the United Nations Environment Programme, captivating murals will grace the skylines of several major cities to help call attention to tree equity. Art moves people in ways words do not; and we need everyone to make tree equity a reality.”
Artist Martín Ron in front of his new mural in Houston | Image credit: Bulleit Frontier Whiskey
Last week in Houston, Bulleit and Street Art for Mankind unveiled the first UN Ecosystem Restoration mural in the United States. The 16-story high mural by globally renowned Argentinean artist Martín Ron depicts a local Houston resident’s hand holding a sapling. The mural represents the importance of amplifying tree equity globally and acts to inspire change at the community level. The mural will remain present in Downtown Houston for years to come.
“Sabato, a famous Argentinean writer, states: ‘Life only needs the space of a crack to be reborn’ — which means that despite the obstacles, life still breaks through. So, the question is: Since when did nature become fragile to the point of needing the hand of man who damages it to resist?” Ron says. “This mural highlights the need to protect our ecosystems around the world and to amplify tree equity scores across the United States.”