The Tariffs vs. The Trees
We did it! Thanks to the generosity of so many of you, we have raised enough to cover the tariff and shipping debacle for Totes for the Trees!!!! We have exciting news & events coming soon, now that we can get back to focusing on the planet. Until then, thank you all so very very much!!
"I’m confident these bags are going to help us reach more folks and plant more trees. It’s been a painfully slow start launching One Tree, but we continue to put the pieces together and do bigger things for the greater good."
-Wil Revehl, Founder - OneTree.org
Thank you so much for supporting OneTree.org by helping us with our Kickstarter conundrum and tote bag tariff trouble. You'll find a donation form below. We sincerely appreciate it.
Transcript of the Interview
Wil Revehl: My name is Wil Revehl. I’m the founder of OneTree.org, a reforestation nonprofit. This is the unintended part 2 of our Totes for the Trees Kickstarter campaign, which ended in July. As some of you might recall, Totes for the Trees was launched by OneTree.org earlier this year with two main goals:
- Reducing single-use plastics by producing reusable grocery totes.
- Raising awareness about OneTree.org’s reforestation mission.
But I’m here because we need help.
This… is a painful ask - one I’ve agonized over for weeks now. I did NOT want to do this.
One thing I never want is our volunteers, donors or supporters to wonder if we’re handling their dollars responsibly. Your trust is crucial for us to exist.
So, I’m here to explain a few things and humbly ask for some help. My wife Rachel is here to keep me on track and make sure I’m not meandering too much…
Rachel: Thanks, Wil. So let’s start first with the “Why?” The Totes for the Trees DID reach its Kickstarter goal. So why are you asking for more money?
Wil Revehl: We certainly thought we HAD reached our goal - and I want to thank everyone who pitched in. We’re an all-volunteer non-profit. It means the world to us.
First thing to note: The bags HAVE been made. We have photos & tracking info. They are en route to Miami on a cargo ship.
The reason we are asking for additional funding is two-fold:
- Kickstarter threw us for a loop.
- And a 25 percent tariff imposed on Chinese goods.
Part of this is absolutely my fault, and I take full responsibility. But the bigger part is due to forces outside of my control.
With Kickstarter, I read the terms, but somehow still missed fine print that shipping costs were NOT isolated from our total raised. We had a false impression that we’d met our goal, when in reality, we were $700 short.
Rachel: But because that was your mistake, you planned on covering that, right?
Wil Revehl: Yes. I did send Kickstarter some feedback on what I feel was a lack of clarity on their part, but ultimately, that was my mistake and I anticipated personally shelling out the $700 to cover it and get these bags delivered.
Rachel: But the costs didn’t end there.
Wil Revehl: Unfortunately, no. On top of the shipping debacle, we recently learned we’ll need to pay a 25 percent tariff because these goods were shipped from China. Contrary to the way the politicians talk, China isn’t the one paying for these tariffs - we are.
These surprises tripled our deficit to $2,000.
Rachel: Speaking of surprises, the OneTree board just hosted a surprise birthday fundraiser for you this past weekend, and I’m sure some may be wondering why you don’t just use those funds to cover these additional costs.
Wil Revehl: Well let me just say first - yes, that was so amazing and a complete surprise and I can’t thank you all enough - you, the One Tree board, the vendors, the hosts and everyone who came out to support & wish me a happy birthday.
But… That money was raised with the express expectation it would be used to plant trees - and it will, several hundreds of them, for which I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
If we turned around and spent that money on a tariff, not only would it wipe out most of the funds raised, it would mean we’re failing to deliver on that promise. Our word and integrity is everything. I’m not going to jeopardize people’s trust in us by using those funds for something other than what we said they would be used for.
Rachel: Ok, and I gotta ask this because it’s come up a few times: Why didn’t One Tree just buy the bags from an American manufacturer in the first place so we could sidestep the whole tariff issue?
Wil Revehl: We tried. I didn’t set out looking to buy from China, but I did want to be responsible with donor dollars. I spoke to several manufacturers in Florida and New Jersey, and what I realized was that they weren’t actually “manufacturers,” they were brokers. So even THEY were having the actual bags made in China. Going direct to the source was the best way to maximize donor dollars.
Rachel: Well, it’s obviously too late to turn back now. The Kickstarter is closed and the totes are on a cargo ship & we have to be sure everyone gets their bags. So… What exactly are you asking for?
Wil Revehl:$1900. That would allow us to cover the $700 to ship the bags, $1050 for the tariff and the $150 for the customs broker.
Rachel: What happens if you don’t raise enough?
Wil Revehl: We’re going to get these bags out no matter what.
Worst-case scenario, I’ll take put this on a personal credit card.
Like I said, I was dreading asking anyone for help. But… my hope is the folks who believe in reforestation and environmental protection as deeply as we do, might be willing to help me out, so we can get back to planting trees.
So I’m swallowing my pride and asking for help.
Rachel: What will $1,900 allow you to do?
Wil Revehl: There are a total of 2,000 totes on that cargo ship. More than 200 are bought-and-paid-for. Every single one of them will plant a tree - this is our promise. $1,900 will allow us to retrieve them from port and ship them to everyone without personally paying for it out-of-pocket. It will also allow us to showcase the rest and raise awareness of our work while reducing single-use plastics.
Rachel: In closing, tell me a little about your personal feelings on this?
Wil Revehl: Asking for help… it’s emotionally wrenching. This is not something I do flippantly, especially when I feel responsible. I’m embarrassed and ashamed.
I’m hoping some of you can help us out any way you can - $5, whatever. All we set out to do here was reduce plastic pollution, raise awareness and plant more trees.
Anything you can contribute, we have a form up on OneTree.org, you’ll see a link on the homepage.
Rachel: Anything you want to add?
Wil Revehl: Just that I deeply appreciate everyone who pitched in for this Totes campaign. We had 147 backers. That literally means the world to me. I’m sorry this is where we’re at. I appreciate everyone who listened to this appeal all the way through, and simply thank you for your consideration and generosity. Our goal here is to plant more trees, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing no matter what. Thank you.