Kids Planting Trees in Colorado

09/16/2010 05:10 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A city in the Rocky Mountains that is not new to environmental debates, such as the Aspen Institute ongoing discussions with top thinkers in the field, AREday, and other important events, had a welcome group of people come into the picture Wednesday: KIDS!

Cheering students from Aspen Elementary were let out of class to plant evergreen trees on the campus hillside during a City of Aspen's Canary Initiative and Plant Trees 4 Life, who had joined forces with the Aspen School district for the big day.

Nearly 100 kids (and adults) took part in this ongoing effort to offset carbon emissions at the Aspen Middle School. Aspen Mayor, Mick Ireland, a well-known steward of the environment (and substitute teacher), gathered the children around the podium before the event, with a question. "Why do we like to plant trees?" The answers ranged from sophisticated carbon offsetting benefits to "it makes the city beautiful." Ireland is loved around the community for riding his bike everywhere and standing up against powerful jackhammer style mega corporations to protect the city from previous generations of pollute-as-much-as-you-want policies that still haunt us.

Pamela Hart, founder of Plant Trees 4 Life, provided the 44 trees Wednesday. As the 24 Douglas Firs and 20 Ponderosa Pines that were planted grow, they will store an estimated 130.5 tons of carbon dioxide. This carbon sequestration calculations were done by Dr. Kurt Mackes of Colorado State University, and the Colorado State Forest Service.

What does this mean to this carbon-offsetting scenario? The Canary Tag project "has been dedicated to reducing greenhouse gases in Aspen and to address the problem of global climate change," meaning, one can buy a tag for $20 per ton of offset. This project at the school cost $2,244, which represents 112.2 tons of offsets. So, if we must pollute, we can buy some oxygen, or rather pay someone to plant a tree that will absorb some of our carbon emissions. The young students had no problem planting trees to offset some of parents' pollution. It was a good start for many kids today.

"The District is excited to be partnering with the City of Aspen for its first Canary Tag Project," said Dr. John Maloy, superintendent of schools. First? Good, there will be more to come. Excellent.

After several speakers talked with students, including a nice Q&A with Lauren McDonnell, interim director of the Canary Tag project, the kids were ready to plant.

"Are you ready to plant some trees?!" Pamela Hart yelled. "Yay!" they yelled back with arms waving. And off they went with shovels. Yes, the kids planted, but special thanks to the maintenance crew at Aspen school district who did the real heavy lifting of these trees, and the total 108 trees planted this year by PT4L. Thanks guys. We love you.