WHAT IF EVERYONE could plant a tree from seed and start his or her own legacy? That’s the question that launched Portland, Oregon’s Tree In A Box (
www.treeinabox. com) in 1991. Founders Art and Kris Akins correctly reasoned that trees started from seed in the environment they would actu- ally be growing in would acclimate and thrive. “We thought it would be a fun business that we might do for two or three years. From the beginning, the kits have been popular, and since the advent of the Internet our sales have really taken off,” says Kris.Tr ee In A Box sells about a dozen tree seed
varieties, including American elm, blue spruce,
giant sequoia, sycamore and red maple.
“Our kits are designed to include minimal
packaging, but they come with a 32-page book-
let, which we feel is a real value and increases
customer success [with growing],” says Kris.
“Best of all, our kits are guaranteed. If you don’t
get a sprout, we’ll send you a new kit.”
Since its founding, Tree In A Box, which
contributes a portion of its profits to tree plant-
ing and conservation groups, has sold more
than 2. 5 million tree kits to retail stores as well
as for company promotions, wedding and party
favors, stocking stuffers, educational programs
and to offset carbon footprints.—Will Fifield
Life is like a box
Operation Clean Slate
OPERATION CLEAN SLATE (www.
OperationCleanSlate.com), a non-profit
organization in southern California founded
by Costco member Michael Howard, involves
students in hands-on mural-painting activities that help beautify school campuses and
reduce graffiti vandalism. At the same time,
students learn about issues such as nutrition
and exercise, anti-tobacco messages, pedestrian safety and water conservation.
“I started Operation Clean Slate while I
was a teacher at the Juvenile Hall school in
Orange County,” says Howard, 46. “It’s been
my full-time job for about 18 years.”
The inspiration for creating Operation
Clean Slate came to Howard while he was
driving to Los Angeles to visit his parents.
“Along the freeway I noticed some graffiti
off to my right. I’d seen graffiti lots of times,
in the bag
but this time it spoke to me. It was as if
I heard a cry for help.”
As Howard looked into what commu-
nities were doing to address the problem
he quickly discovered they were overlook-
ing what he felt was an elemental ques-
tion: why kids were doing graffiti in the
“I figured if you address the root
cause—that kids need to be creative, have
their self-esteem nurtured and a safe place
to express themselves and channel their
energies into something positive that
benefits the community—then you could
reduce graffiti,” he says.
To date 24,000 volunteers have completed more than 700 large-scale murals
at 360 schools throughout Southern
California as well as in Washington and
Iowa, and produced five murals outside
the U.S. in Kenya, Thailand, Mexico,
Costa Rica and Peru.—T. Foster Jones
88 ;e Costco Connection APRIL 2011
NECESSITY IS THE mother of inven- tion, they say, and that’s certainly true for Costco member Linda Thwaite Peterson of Vashon Island, Washington. “In late April and early May [of 2010], I puzzled over how to protect my tiny, shivering tomato plants from the wettest, coldest spring on record.” Taking Kirkland Signature™ Tortilla Chip bags, she installed one bag around each 4-inch tomato plant, placing tomato cages or stakes inside the bags to hold them open. As the photo shows, Peterson had a
healthy crop, despite the cold and wind.
IF YOU HAVE A NOTE, PHOTO OR STORY to
share about Costco or Costco members, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org with “The Member
Connection” in the subject line or send it to
“The Member Connection,” The Costco Connection,
P.O. Box 34088, Seattle, WA 98124-1088. Submissions cannot be acknowledged or returned.
We want to
hear from you!