By Avey Herlihy

Born in the rise of the pandemic, at Our Lady of the Snows School in Canmore, Alberta, our Net Zer0 Heroes sustainability club has embraced the mission of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and shrinking our carbon footprint. By being aware of our impact, we can find ways to offset the harm that we have created to earth’s atmosphere, and aim to prevent it in the future. Last spring, our six members put our plans to action, and embarked on a carbon calculating journey. We submitted a report on the Rotary adventure I’m about to tell you about, plus our re-wilding project, for the Earth Prize 2022, and we landed a spot in the Top 34 of over 600 teams!

Our club was able to attend the Rotary District 5360 Conference in Cochrane this past May, where we collected and presented data from over 300 guests on the parameters of their trip: vehicle transport type; return distance in kilometers; and number of registrants in each vehicle. Then, utilizing Tree Canada’s Carbon Calculator, we were able to calculate the tonnes of CO2 being emitted from this transport, and the number of trees needed to offset these emissions. In total, with registrants travelling over twenty-six thousand kilometres to return from the conference, they emitted nearly 6.6 tonnes of CO2. That means 42 trees were needed to offset their travel home.

Along with offsetting through the planting of trees, our club also listed a series of other offsetting organizations and renewable energy research development companies that could be donated to on behalf of the Net Zer0 Heroes. We informed conference participants about OCO, cleanO2, ESRAG and Yellowstone 2 Yukon, all running out of Alberta. As guests exited the District Conference, they were able to vote on the offsetting option of their choice. Out of the $2,500 conference participants donated, their votes allocated $910 to TreeTime, $300 to Tree Canada, $400 to Yellowstone to Yukon Wildlife Conservation Initiative, $421 to ESRAG, $184 to CleanO2, and $140 to Captured Carbon Studio.

Continuing this offsetting initiative, our club purchased 280 seedlings, 180 one-year old Blue Spruce seedlings, and 100 two-year old Blue Spruce seedlings, courtesy of TreeTime. These seedlings were distributed to guests throughout the conference, as well as gifted to students in our hometown to assist with our rewilding project, which will be kickstarting in the near future.

Throughout the club and community Net Zer0 Heroes were able to double our offsets of the conference transportation by participants’ donations enabling us to purchase carbon offsets. Together, we are able to make a bigger difference with alternative options, and we thank our math teacher Luc Arvisais and everyone who has helped us on our journey to a greener, cleaner future! We’re very proud of our work as a club, and hope to continue this legacy at our school!

Teacher Luc Arvisais is a new Rotarian and member of ESRAG’s Big West Chapter who was recruited to by ESRAG Director Joey O’Brien.