TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s Earth Day! And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the day that recognizes the need to protect our environment.

Trees are one vital part of our environment that keep earth healthy and allow humans to continue to live.

Oxygen is mandatory for humans to breathe. When we breathe in the air, our bodies absorb oxygen that’s part of the air. When we exhale, we used up that oxygen and now expel carbon dioxide. There are a lot of things that produce carbon dioxide other than humans as well including cattle, exhaust from cars and the process of manufacturing gasoline.

Plants are vital because they take in this carbon dioxide that we produce and convert it back into oxygen for us to breathe again!

For a plant (tree, flower, algae, bush, etc.) to survive, it needs “food” to grow, just like humans do! Except the food that the plant needs is different from the food humans do.

The food that plants need include:

  1. Dirt with nutrients like minerals
  2. Water
  3. Carbon dioxide from the air
  4. Sunlight

These four key ingredients all come together to make food for the plant to live.

When people and animals eat food, our bodies convert it into energy for us to use. The plant also takes its “food” in and converts them into glucose, or energy, for the plant to use and grow.

The process that uses sunlight to convert water, nutrients from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air into glucose is called photosynthesis. The light energy from the sun starts a chemical reaction inside the plant’s leaves and stems and converts it into usable energy for the plant to continue to grow and get bigger or produce fruit and vegetables. Sometimes the plant will even store some of the sugars in its roots for later use.