Trees. There’s nothing Marmite about trees. We’ve not come across a single person who doesn’t love trees. Even those who are pretty much wedded to being city dwellers love the fact that there are parks and green places dotted around, all with trees in them.

We have an additional reason to love trees at Happydesigner. Because without trees, would we have paper? Yes, paper really does come from trees, with the exception of a few varieties, like rice paper and hemp paper.

Without paper, would we have books? And without books? Well… nothing for our fantastic Sarah to illustrate. A little tenuous, we agree, but we like that train of thought…

So the fact that paper comes from trees is just one of the many, many reasons the team here at Happydesigner are doing our bit to help support tree planting.

Tree planting with the National Trust 

We believe as a business and as human beans (as the BFG would say) we need to support the environment we live and work in, and which is why we are backing the National Trust’s tree-planting initiative.

For every book we complete, we donate a tree, and so far we have donated 20! We’re chuffed with that. And as we are getting busier all the time, we reckon our tree-planting rate is only going to increase.

Did you know, just 13 per cent of the UK is covered by trees, compared with an average of 35 per cent among EU countries? That’s one of the reasons that the National Trust wants to plant 20million trees over ten years. Our little island used to be covered in trees, and we need to make a step towards that again.

We’re not sure how many will be planted on behalf of Happydesigner and our wonderful books and authors, but for a small team we have made a great start. From little acorns, great oak trees grow! Well done National Trust, we’re proud to be playing our part.

A bit more about paper

Okay, so paper comes from trees, but which trees? We think it is important to look at sustainability. Even if paper comes from a recycled source, it started life as a tree, so we believe it’s a good idea to look at the provenance of the paper we are using.

In other words, we want to use paper that comes from managed woodland where the trees are replenished, and where the ecosystem is maintained for the flora and fauna inhabiting it.

In the UK, the UK Woodland Assurance Standard is used to certify timber that comes from a sustainable source. There are lots of organisations – like The Woodland Trust – which are dedicated to looking after woodland and increasing the wooded area in the UK. 

wildlife happydesigner childrens illustration

A bit more about trees

We love a fun fact at Happydesigner, and the internet is awash with fun facts about trees. Here are a few of our favourites:

  1. Some trees never die of old age. Which isn’t to say they don’t die, but it won’t be old age that gets them. One of the oldest on the planet is called Methuselah, and it has been living in a forest in California for nearly 5,000 years. There is also cypress in Chile which has been alive for 3,600 years. Good heavens! Glad we don’t live that long.
  2. A bit like living forever, some trees keep on growing forever – up, and up, and up. There’s one in the Redwood forests of California, called Hyperion, which has reached 116 metres – so it’s 20 metres taller than Big Ben, and you can’t see the canopy from ground level. Amazing!
  3. Trees make us happy. No, they really do! They release chemicals called phytoncides. When we breathe this in, it’s been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and lower blood pressure, as well as increase our pain thresholds. How fantastic is that? Leading on from this, there’s a trend taking off, which originated in Japan in the 1980s, called Shinrin-yoku, which translates as ‘forest bathing’. Taking a daily, leisurely walk in a forest and enjoying the atmosphere is hugely therapeutic.
  4. Many myths surround trees, and much is written about them in folklore. Did you know the phrase ‘knock on wood’ – i.e. meaning ‘with luck’ – comes from the belief that knocking on a tree awoke spirits who would protect us?
  5. There are three trillion trees on the planet, that’s 422 times more than there are people. But there used to be many, many more. We need to look after our trees and forests. Just saying. Which leads us nicely on to…
childrens book illustrator

Happydesigner and sustainability

At Happydesigner, being sustainable is embedded in our ethos. In our early days, we had to rely on paper and ink, and we produced thousands of designs. 

We realised this wasn’t good for climate change, so we invested in IT and now have brilliant design equipment which allows Sarah to create her fantastic children’s book illustrations onscreen. 

We have hugely reduced our need for paper and ink, and where we do use it, we opt for sustainable versions. You can read a little more about our commitment to sustainability here.

Are you thinking of writing a children’s book? Do you need help with the illustrations? Wouldn’t it be good to know that, if you chose the Happydesigner team to help, you’d also have a tree planted to mark the publication? If you’d like to chat to us about books, trees, paper, or sustainability, then please get in touch with Sarah and the team. Helping the planet, one tree at a time, with our children’s book illustrations!

Written by Jo Smyth (www.wordworker.co.uk)