tree hugger  noun, : environmentalist
2; especially : an advocate for the preservation of woodlands

That's the definition that most likely comes to mind for people when they hear the term. Some see it as an unflattering name for an environmentalist. The truth however is a much more surprising and empowering story.

“….India was the starting point for the Chipoko Movement, a very famous non-violent series of protests to combat deforestation in the early 1970’s. This movement is famous for a group of Indian women who confronted tree loggers who were armed with guns and chopping materials. The women protested the cutting of the trees by actually wrapping their arms around the trunks to stop them from being cut down. The standoff lasted for four days (with women from other villages joining) until the loggers finally decided to leave. This is where the term “Tree Hugger” comes from. The news of the protest reached the state capital where the then Chief Minister ruled in favor of the villagers. This was a historic moment in the history of the eco-development struggles in that part of the world. …”

We should all embrace the term. Obviously that is already well underway but it's good to know the true origin.