Meet Tash Acres
Founder Of Earth Runs
Meet Tash Acres, the founder of Earth Runs - a virtual race that allows runners to contribute to planting trees for miles they cover. Earth Runs was created to encourage people to stay fit while making a positive impact on the planet. Tash hopes that by planting trees, one run at a time, we can combat climate change, together.
Can you tell us more about what inspired you to begin Earth Runs?
I had the idea for Earth Runs while running! I’d been looking for a challenge to motivate me on the dark, cold mornings, and I’d come across several virtual challenges online, but they just offered medals that I didn’t really want or need. My daughter had to throw away all her old gym medals as there was no way of recycling them, so it got me thinking that there must be something better to encourage people to stay fit.
That’s when I thought about planting trees for miles. Earth Runs started with virtual races to see if others would be interested in doing something for the planet while they exercised. And excuse the pun, it just grew!
Why did you choose to plant trees to combat climate change?
Trees are incredible. They don’t just sequester carbon but help regenerate our soils, offer wildlife safe habitats, protect us from floods, and there’s the small matter of the oxygen they give us too! They do so much more than suck up CO2. And it’s never just one tree. One tree will create hundreds of others in its lifetime.
The other good thing about trees is that they are tangible – you can count them. You can discover the impact they will have, and I think that’s important for people. They need to know they are making a difference to encourage them to keep going. So much of our fight for nature is about cutting things out and reducing stuff, but you rarely know the impact this has. Because you can easily measure the output of planted trees, we can give people impact reports that tell them what a difference they’ve made.
Can you tell us more about how the trees you plant benefit communities and wildlife?
We partner with a couple of well-established tree-planting charities to do the planting on our behalf. They help support the local communities to ensure the longevity of the planting projects. Often, the areas affected by deforestation face extreme poverty. By employing local communities to help seed, grow and nurture the trees and nurseries, and then working with them to develop agroforestry projects, our charities can ensure the long-term success of the project and help provide guaranteed employment and food for the local people.
After planting the trees, they'll grow to create safe habitats for wildlife. Research shows that trees shelter hundreds of animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and millions of insects. Many areas facing deforestation have seen catastrophic losses of wildlife, and reforestation can reverse that trend. After a few years of planting, the wildlife begins to help propagate more trees and plants, and nature takes over. It just needs a helping hand to change the damage we humans have done.
What is your favourite Earth Runs success story?
Wow. There are so many wonderful success stories. What started out with a few hundred trees has now grown to 125,000 – all from people being active and wanting to turn their miles into trees.
We won the Brooks Run Fund, allowing us to launch the Community Interest Company. I love seeing the stories people have shared with us, from schools that took part in our School Planting Scheme to the regular runners and walkers who get out and do most of our challenges knowing they’ve made such a difference.
I think my favourite success story is the launch of the 1% Club this year. The club offers to plant a tree for you every day you’re active. It doesn’t matter how far, fast, or active you are; it’s completely inclusive, no matter your ability. That’s been the best thing we’ve done to date because now, even if you’re not into races or challenges, you can still do something positive for the planet every single day. That’s a massive success for us.
How do you choose the areas you plant trees and the species you grow?
Most of our trees are planted in projects located around the equator; the trees grow faster there and start sequestering carbon sooner, but occasionally we host challenges that are specific to a certain region or to combat a particular problem, such as helping to replant in Australia after wildfires, or to support a project in Scotland.
What are your future plans and how do you see Earth Runs growing?
We’ll continue to host virtual challenges both directly and with corporate partners who want challenges for their teams. Currently, our main focus is to grow the 1% Club and champion being active.
Our work has shown us the vast benefits that even just 10 minutes of activity does for our health. Even as a runner who goes out 3 or 4 times a week, I find myself being stuck behind a desk every day and moving very little. Knowing that walking around the block will help me and help the planet is a huge motivator.
We’re committed to getting 1% of the UK active – that’s 680,000 people. If we get them active 5 times a week, we will plant 13 million trees a month! That’s huge and would make such a difference. And we’d each feel like we were part of the solution. It’s a massive goal, but when we achieve it, it’ll be worth it.
How can other runners be more environmentally conscious when running (e.g. running kit, running routes, taking part in events).
The biggest impact runners have on the environment is through their travel to events. So, planning our routes to events in time to take lower-carbon options, car-sharing etc., would make a massive difference. Also, put pressure on the event organisers to look for more sustainable options or offer opt-outs for goodie bags and free t-shirts that will end up in landfill.
After that, it’s the kit. Buy good quality, sustainable options and wear them for as long as possible, then repair them when you can. There are so many good options for repairing, repurposing and recycling these days, but it doesn’t give us a license to just keep buying more stuff. It’s better to buy only when we need it and give the kit a good hiding before you look to ditch it.
Then, of course, we’d suggest planting a tree every day you’re active at the 1% Club 😊
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us, Tash! If you’d like help Tash on her mission to fight climate change, get involved and contribute to the fantastic work being done across the globe. Think you can run 25km before the end of May? Take part in the Runners Need Earth Runs challenge, and Earth Runs will plant 25 trees.