The Tree Hugger story.
A simple idea that grew into the best way to help planting become more cost-effective, successful and sustainable for generations.

Optimising net zero

Tree Hugger began as a business decision. BMP is a global leader in textiles (among other things), including Technical Non Woven Textiles and Engineered Polyurethane Elastomers. We were exploring emerging markets. Sustainability is such a market.

Net zero is a global imperative and tree planting is part of this. But net zero is not reaching its full potential, partly because we were failing to fix issues like wasted tree planting budgets, the creation of more plastic waste and transportation. It seemed like the planet was missing opportunities to find true sustainability.

Seeking true sustainability

Despite the fact that everyone knows plastic is terrible for the environment, its short term benefits mean we’re trying to use it to tackle climate breakdown. The UK government has set a goal to plant 90–120 million trees a year by 2025. Millions of whips, millions of plastic tree shelters. It’s a truly dystopian situation – plastic doesn’t protect nature.

The more we learned, the more emotionally invested we became in a solution. It became our mission to use what we know to discover a better solution – one that’s environmentally sound and makes long term sense.

We imagined a way to create a tree shelter (also known as a tree guard) using natural materials, using processes that make it a strong alternative to plastic and keep the carbon footprint low. We even dared to dream that such a tree shelter would enhance tree growth too.

Prototyping the Tree Hugger

At BMP in the UK, we began exploring ways to make our natural tree shelter as strong and long-lasting as a plastic tree guard.

Our tree shelter was to have an organic loom state cotton substrate. It needed a coating that would help it withstand browsing animals small and tall, and all kinds of weather. The coating we chose is pine rosin (resin) from sustainably managed forests.


Testing the Tree Hugger in the lab and in the field

Prototyping led to testing. In the lab, we had to use methods and ISO guidance for plastics and create equivalent tests, as there aren’t (yet) equivalent standards for testing natural composites like organic cotton and pine rosin. It was a good starting point.

We sent thousands of Tree Huggers to tree planting projects across the UK. We’ve cultivated relationships with organisations that understand the challenges of tree planting and value sustainability highly. Many are involved in the Forestry Plastics Group. Testing is underway and ongoing with organisations like the National Trust, The Forestry Commission and The Woodland Trust.

All in all, using our experience, industry relationships, and by connecting with the tree planting sector, we’ve been able to take Tree Hugger from concept to market in record time.

Testing Tree Hugger

Naming the Tree Hugger

On the factory floor one day, observing the manufacture of our new biodegradable tree shelter, we overheard the operatives chatting. One referred to our new unnamed product as ‘that tree hugger’.

We couldn’t have found a creative agency that would have come up with such a great brand name. Significantly, ‘Tree Hugger’ came from someone who knows explicitly what it’s made from and how it’s made. It says everything about how we feel about our product – its beneficial nature, its life enhancing purpose, and its potential.

Tree Hugger’s next chapter

Tree Hugger won’t single-handedly save the world – just as tree planting won’t help us reach net zero if it’s done in isolation. We think of Tree Hugger as a single thread in a planet-wide network, supporting healing and a sustainable future.

Beyond tree planting, we’ve proven that these materials and manufacturing processes, which have created such a remarkable product, have the potential to help us find answers to other net zero challenges.

Buy Tree Hugger
Tree Hugger tree shelter is exclusively distributed by our trusted partner, Amenity Choice.