Despite the planet being in peril, the term "tree hugger" still tends to be used derisively. But that hasn't stopped residents of Melbourne, Australia from showing the city's trees some love—and they're expressing it appropriately: paperless.
In 2013, city officials designated each tree with a unique number and corresponding email. Initially, the effort was intended to let citizens more efficiently notify officials of needed repairs and maintenance.
But soon, people began writing to the trees themselves, showering them with compliments and wishes of good will.
Some thanked them for allowing us to breathe.
At least one American wrote as a tree themselves.
"My name is Quercus Alba. Y’all can call me Al. I’m about 350 years old and live on a small farm in N.E. Mississippi, USA. I’m about 80 feet tall, with a trunk girth of about 16 feet. I don't travel much (actually haven’t moved since I was an acorn). I just stand around and provide a perch for local birds and squirrels."
Another letter said:
“As I was leaving St. Mary’s College today I was struck, not by a branch, but by your radiant beauty. You must get these messages all the time. You’re such an attractive tree.”
Chair of the Melbourne Environment Portfolio Arron Wood said of the "unintended but positive" development reveals "the love Melbournians have for our trees."
They weren't the only ones inspired by the letters.
Twitter users spread the love as well.
@BrentToderian I love this. I have always had a very personal relationship with particular urban trees.— sandymaxey (@sandymaxey)1452917714.0
@mental_floss This is literally one of my favorite stories ever. Reading the emails to the trees is just the best.— Kat (@Kat)1518238029.0
@mental_floss I felt weird having a list of favorite trees! I’m not sure what my internal process is for approving… https://t.co/Zf956U0p5q— Samantha Adams (@Samantha Adams)1518333436.0
Melbournians, you were beautiful in 2015 (& still are): emailing love letters to trees... 💕 https://t.co/WpCY8gD2oZ— kylie boltin (@kylie boltin)1550750255.0
To send an email of your own, visit the Melbourne Forest website.