Alexa now plants trees by voice command

Alexa now plants trees by voice command

Alexa’s customers can now help plant trees. How does environmental help via voice AI work?

In the USA, users of Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa can now help plant trees – by voice command. The e-commerce giant wants to breathe new life into forests around the world with its “One Tree Planted” initiative.

The project aims to help preserve and restore the environment in various forest areas, as well as improve the living conditions of orcas.

Alexa, plant a tree

Using the voice command “Alexa, plant a tree,” U.S. customers can donate one U.S. dollar, which will be invested directly in planting new trees. According to Amazon, one tree will be planted with every dollar donated.

Amazon itself came forward with one million US dollars at the beginning of the campaign. The donations will support four projects in the USA and India: The Appalachia region damaged by mining and logging, wildfire areas in California, and forests in twelve Indian states.

In addition, new trees will be planted along the migratory areas of orca whales in the Pacific Northwest to make their habitat more fertile again. Those who wish to donate directly can do so through the Alexa Grow A Tree website via PayPal or credit card.

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Initiatives for planting trees should be treated with caution

As The Verge revealed in a report two years ago, tree planting initiatives have risks: In certain circumstances, renaturation measures can cause more damage than they avert.

According to one study published in Nature, projects in India over the past few years have likely changed the composition of the forest and reduced the tree species that are beneficial to local communities.

Amazons ökologischer Fußabdruck in den Jahren 2018 bis 2020 im Vergleich.

Amazon’s overall ecological footprint is increasing – so tree-planting campaigns with Alexa won’t help much. You can find the link to the full report at the end of the article. | Image: Amazon

For companies like Amazon, such initiatives are primarily about image improvement: The online retailer does strive to use climate-friendly manufacturing methods for its smart Echo devices and aims to be completely CO₂-neutral by 2040.

Nevertheless, the group’s ecological footprint has increased in recent years. According to Amazon, this was due to the company’s general growth during the corona pandemic.

Sources: Amazon, The Verge,  Amazon Sustainability Report