*

Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
menu +

Blog


Leilani Münter is a busy environmentalist, juggling her National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) racing duties and environmental responsibilities, speaking up for the Gulf, the need to transition to clean energy, and the protection of the world’s wildlife.

In August 2010, Leilani boarded a plane with Ric O’Barry to Taiji, Japan, to shine a light on the annual dolphin hunt occurring in the infamous cove. On her plane ride to Japan, Leilani reflected to us on our remarkable ability as human beings to adapt to change, and reminded us that we have the power and the capacity to change – we just need to act.


Leilani Munter on the Race Tract

BY LEILANI MÜNTER

I drove in a “zero emission vehicle” rally across Norway called the Viking Rally. When I crossed the finish line, I got out of my car, walked over to the exhaust pipe, put my hand out to capture the condensation and drank it.

How could I do this? I was driving a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, of which the only emissions are water and heat.

The “exhaust” coming out of my car was water vapor, nothing more.

People laughed at me and said I was crazy for doing that, but I drank that exhaust because I wanted to drive home the point – the waste from this car is so clean I can drink it!

The particular hydrogen fuel cell car I was driving cost about $1 million to build, so don’t think we are going to see them all over the road anytime soon. But it is a step in a right direction and shows that it CAN be done.

There are many other promising solutions to our fossil fuel like cellulosic ethanol and algae based biodiesel,electric carsgasification of trash to fuel, and the increased use of public transport.

Of course there are a multitude of reasons for us to get off of oil. Besides the obvious drawback of continuing to contribute to the 90 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into our atmosphere every day, our addiction to oil is also a national security issue.

In America, we currently spend $1 billion per day buying foreign oil from unstable countries that don’t like us very much. Drilling here is not the answer either, because our oil reserves are minimal.

Even if we drilled all our reserves – on and offshore – with our current use, it would be enough to last us for about three and a half years. That is not a workable formula, no matter how you do the math. And having made two trips to the Gulf in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill disaster, I have seen first hand the dangers of offshore drilling. It’s not a pretty sight.

Charles Darwin once said:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives. Nor is it the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

And so it is time for us to utilize our intelligence to adapt, to change, to improvise the way that we are living. For all our destruction and carelessness, one thing you cannot take away from the human being is our ingenuity.

There are brilliant minds around the world and I have no doubt we can find a solution to our problems, but we must act quickly.

This generation has been called upon to answer to the most noble of duties – to ensure the survival of future generations with the most basic of survival mechanisms – adaptation.


You can watch Leilani’s own GreenHero profile video to learn more about her inspiring work and how she’s changing her life to reduce her carbon footprint.

To learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint and change the way you live, visit our Oil Changers campaign page. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

To read more about Leilani’s work, visit her Carbon Free Girl site.

Follow Leilani on Twitter, or become her fan on Facebook.

Donate to the National Wildlife Federation to help wildlife affected by the BP oil spill.

Are you working in a particularly polluting industry? Are you feeling guilty about the fossil fuel and oil you are emitting as a result? Like Leilani, are you doing something to offset or lessen this negative impact on the environment? Share your Oil Changer story here for your chance to win a prize in our contest.


GreenHero Leilani Münter is not only a crusader for change at NASCAR, but she’s an advocate of living your values by making changes in your day to day.

Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Got 5 minutes every day?

Follow Leilani’s tips below, and share them with your friends via Twitter and Facebook. Just pick one or two to start, and let us know how it goes by commenting at the bottom of this post.

1. Change your lightbulbs to compact fluorescent lightbulbs – not only are they more energy efficient, but they will save you money!

2. While traveling, pack your own bar of soap & bottle of shampoo and don’t open the little soap & shampoo the hotel offers.

3. Bring your own reuseable tote bags to the grocery store instead of using paper or plastic bags.

4. Block junkmail. Call the companies and tell them to take you off their mailing lists (most junkmail will have a 1-800 number listed in their materials). Visit 41pounds.org for more information on how to block junkmail.

5. When you pick up take out food, ask them to hold the condiments and utensils – use your own if you are going to eat at home.

6. Plant a tree for every trip you take. Trees convert CO2 to oxygen, they are our best defense against global warming.

7. Become vegetarian – or at least reduce your meat consumption. Leilani has been vegetarian for years. There are many reasons why being vegetarian is better for the environment, humans, and animals. Meat goes hand in hand with fossil fuels, rainforest destruction, water pollution, world hunger, and animal cruelty.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
– Albert Einstein

8. Buy and use organic and natural products.

9. Tell the bartender or waiter to hold the straw.

10. Support your local farmers – the further away your groceries come from, the more CO2 was produced getting it to your house.

11. Recycle. Did you know it takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than to make it from raw materials?

12. Adjust your thermostat. In winter, lower it a few degrees and wear warmer clothing. In summer, raise it a few degrees and take off some clothes!

13. Use recycled paper towels and toilet paper. If your local grocery store doesn’t carry recycled products, ask them why.

14. If you are visiting a conservation site, if they have ads on their site, click on them. The conservation site will collect money from the advertisers for every click they get.

Are you working in a particularly polluting industry? Are you feeling guilty about the fossil fuel and oil you are emitting as a result? Like Leilani, are you doing something to offset or lessen this negative impact on the environment? Share your Oil Changer story here for your chance to win a prize in our contest.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

Stripping down to nada but nature’s own swimsuit to fundraise for a cause is what the Ladies of the Lake Calendar was all about. Inspired by the women of Yorkshire who raised over 2 million pounds, initially for a couch in the visitor’s area of a hospital and then for Leukaemia Research & Lymphoma Research; the Ladies of the Lake made a statement for Lake Simcoe.

The first Calendar Girls from the UK were motivated to take action after John Richard Baker, husband of Angela Baker, passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at only 54. It could not have been predicted that their success would be so vast that the story was not only picked up by Buena Vista International and Touchstone Pictures and awarded several prizes including a Golden Globe, but it also visited Toronto as a play at the Royal Alexandria Theater earlier on this year.

The Ladies of the Lake started their fundraiser in 2006 with the “Naked Truth” Calendar to raise awareness for Lake Simcoe, 4th largest lake in the province. Their success was so massive that they later made another calendar in 2009, “Drink it. Swim it. Fish it. Love it”,  with the help of the Federal and Ontario governments, and photographer Jim Panou. Sold at only $15.00 a piece, they were able to raise over 400,000 for the lake.

Annabel Slaight and the Ladies of the Lake are tirelessly raising awareness of the many obstacles that are keeping Lake Simcoe from health. Whether it is by explaining the science behind it in simple ways, or by teaching us what we can do to help, the over 100 women in yellow t-shirts were ready to raise up to the occasion. And they have.

Some people are wondering  these days how to help Canadians develop better water consciousness when most of us think water comes from the refrigerator door, and when asked what is a watershed is might easily reply “it’s a shack in the yard for water bottles.”

There’s no question we take water for granted. So how do we all start valuing water for what it is worth?  Social marketing mnemonic prompts might well remind us to turn off the tap – but to me that sort of effort is just wasting water in different way.

Our Ladies of the Lake work on Lake Simcoe has shown us that a lake or a river is much more than something to be used, and that water is not just a commodity. First hand we’ve seen water’s great powers to teach, inspire and connect us.  As people, business and government grapple with unprecedented social, economic and environmental change, we believe, as U.S. ecologist David W. Orr puts it: “Water can help us flow to a place where mind and habitat are reconnected and where our needs for shelter, warmth, energy, economic well being, health , creativity and conviviality all connect.”

That’s why Ladies of the Lake is taking a lead role in a growing group of people and organizations nurturing the idea of a Water Centre for Innovation, Research and Learning on Lake Simcoe. We see this as a 21st century hub of activity where children, students, scientists, artists, businesses, government and citizens of all types come together to celebrate and learn about water.  And, inspired by water, we see a place where the ecological, social, cultural, economic, recreational and spiritual meanings and benefits of water come together.

The first big step towards a water centre  –to show what it might be—is to  happen August 13, 2011 at the first SPLASH Floating Water Festival on the shores of Lake Simcoe in leafy  De La Salle Park, Jackson’s Point. We invite everyone to join us in  experiencing  the many powers of water… water music, water art, water sports,  water inventions, water learning with a good measure of  fun and fresh local food thrown in . See more at www.splashfestival .ca — and see you there!

8 q

If you saw 100 women dressed in yellow shirts singing the praises of Lake Simcoe, you would probably think your eyes were deceiving you. Not so, the Ladies of the Lake is an association of over 100 such women who are seeking new and innovative ways to get people active in returning their lake to the good health it once enjoyed.

Annabel Slaight is best known as an editor and publisher of children’s books and magazines,  and kids TV producer. But these days, this retired media maven is most involved in the Ladies of the Lake Conservation Association of which she is co-founder.

This GreenHero’s association is spearheading  a new cross-discipline approach to conservation and renewal. Through the use of art, media and other forms of education, this group is promoting interest and participation in bringing lake Simcoe back to health after 30 years of neglect. Annabel and her friend Jane Meredith, co-founded The Ladies after realizing what dire straights the area was in. Cold-water fish were no longer breeding, some beaches were no longer suitable places for families to play and the bio-diversity had shifted in favour of invasive plant and insect life.

Instead of mandating a simple clean-up regime, Annabel and the Ladies have managed to engage people in new and inventive ways. An example of this was the 2009 W.A.S.T.E. film project, this stands for We Are Saving The Environment and it saw 64 youth attend film courses and create short films to prompt action to save Lake Simcoe. This culminated with a film festival and a conference that was well attended and you can view all films on-line!

The Ladies’ newest project is The Ontario Water Centre. Which seeks to educate the public about water and why it is so integral to our health and how Canada can set an example as defenders of the world’s water. This vision of combining all types of professionals and creativities to appreciate and protect our most precious natural resource is truly inspiring. It kicks off this August with the SPLASH Floating Water Festival in Jackson’s Point.

8 q

Mary Gorman was recognized by all members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for her environmental work and activism. She is also commended for having been the latest Green Heroes grand prize winner on April 16th, at the Green Living Show in Toronto. The letter reads as follows:

“HANSARD 11-15

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Gordon Grosse

Third Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 2011.

RESOLUTION NO.632

MR. CLAIRRE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Mary Gorman, A Merigomish resident, was named Canada’s latest Green Hero during the Green Living Show in Toronto, April 16, 2011, and;

Whereas Ms. Gorman was nominated through the Sierra Club, in Halifax, for her strong commitment toward the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and to raise awareness about the oil industry and other issues in the Gulf; and

Whereas Ms. Gorman will be featured in a 30-minute international television program this Fall highlighting her cause and efforts to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Mary Gorman for her perseverance and commitment to the environment.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Compliments of Clairre MacKinnon MLA Pictou East”

More and more event organizers are choosing to reduce their environmental impact by bullfrogpowering their events with 100% green electricity. Any event in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island that draws electricity from the grid can become bullfrogpowered.

The 3rd Annual Earth Run/Walk, Run for Your Planet, started in April and is taking place throughout June. It encourages people to look for ways to lead a healthier lifestyle. You can join a run or do it independently as a virtual runner. There are several benefiting local organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation.

Canada’s west coast goes green with several events this month. EAT Vancouver is a food and cooking festival that launches today and runs until June 12th. LOVE Vancouver, Love Your Planet is a free green arts, music and lifestyle festival in the False Creek seawall and the Olympic Village. It not only entertains though music and art, but aims to bring people together and collaborate to creating new ideas and means to leading a greener lifestyle.

The CSA Standards 2011 Annual Conference & Committee Week taking place in Victoria, B.C.  June 12th-17th,  brings together the leading industry professionals, government delegates and consumer representatives to help lay the stepping stones for sustainable practices. Back in Toronto, the Canadian Water Summit 2011 is taking place on June 14th to collaborate and develop solutions for a sustainable water future.

Ever wondered what kinds of energy efficient households are out there? Learn more about Edmonton’s EcoSolar Home Tour will open the doors to ten houses that explore the possibilities. From ‘net zero’ homes that generate more power than they use, to geothermal heat and solar electric systems, you are bound to have quite an educational experience!

Last but certainly not least, check out Edmonton’s first Summer Solstice Cultural Celebration with the Utopia Music Festival. Wearing the banner of unity, diversity and love, it brings together a varied collection of musicians from different musical backgrounds. Takes place on June 17th and 18th!

Interested in getting Bullfrog to Power your events? Click here to find out how! Also, if you want to subscribe to the Bullfrog Power Events news RSS feed, click here.

8 q

For as long as Tom Heintzman can remember, he has felt a personal commitment to the environment. The President and Co-Founder of Bullfrog Power, Canada’s 100% green energy provider, believes his appreciation of nature stems from early family canoe trips, and the hours spent exploring the outdoors as a child. Tom’s first memory of protecting the environment involves recycling with his grandmother, back during a time when municipal programs were not in place. In varying capacities, Tom has woven environmentalism into all stages of his life and work.

Over the years, Tom has felt a growing concern about the impact humans are having on the planet, and he has developed a strong desire to find alternate actions or solutions homes and businesses can implement to help reduce their footprint. Starting a renewable energy company was the logical continuation or next step in his personal story. Through Bullfrog Power, Tom and his business partner, Greg Kiessling, offer Canadians green energy choices for their homes and businesses. By choosing green electricity and green natural gas through Bullfrog, Canadians are able to reduce their environmental impact, support the development of new renewable generation in Canada, and help influence change in Canada’s energy landscape.

Often Tom is asked where the name “Bullfrog Power” comes from. According to Tom, Bullfrogs represent “green” without being too literal. Also, frogs are an indicator species and among the first to feel the impacts of climate change. The personality of the bullfrog also fits the company brand: bullfrogs are small but they each have a big voice. Ultimately, the meaning behind the name reflects attributes of bullfrogpowered customers. They are individuals making a big difference for the environment and energy landscape in Canada.

The energy industry is a place that can use a visionary GreenHero such as this campaign’s Tom Heintzman.

Tom Heintzman is the co-founder and current president of Bullfrog Power Inc., Canada’s only 100% green energy provider to homes and businesses across the nation. This GreenHero helps people across the nation decrease their carbon emissions while providing a service we all use everyday. He shows us that one doesn’t need to endanger the earth or compromise our commitment to green living to have the things we need.

This company enjoys wide patronage. Some of their better-known clients include; Tragically Hip front-man Gord Downie, former Toronto mayor David Crombie and Margaret Atwood.

Mr. Heintzman reflects that as early as 14 he displayed a passion for renewable energy when undertook an environmental class and wrote about his concern for the future of energy supplies. He hasn’t stopped since.

Our GreenHero is always looking for new ways to green the energy industry. The newest product to come out of Heintzman’s Bullfrog Company is Canada’s first completely green natural gas. Using emissions harvested from combinations of organic, decomposing materials such as landfills, the gas is processed and provided to clients as a clean alternative to mined gas. The more we use, the less the need for traditional fuels. With innovations such as this, Tom is an inspiration to us all not to accept the staus quo. If a product or practice is harming the earth, there must be another, greener, gentler way live, you just have to keep on going until you get find it.

Photos from Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life, courtesy CineFocus-Paquin Pictures

Groundbreaker, artist, musician and activist, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s powerful song, No No Keshagesh, adds award-winning clout and passion to Tzeporah Berman’s webisode and campaign.

Keshagesh means Greedy Guts. It’s what you call a little puppy who eats his own dinner and then wants everybody else’s.” Buffy explains about the song title.

Buffy’s accomplishments include everything from being the first person to receive the APCMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award to winning a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her song  Up Where We Belong, the theme song for An Officer and a Gentleman.

If you haven’t checked it out, CineFocus Canada, the company that created GreenHeroes, also produced a one hour documentary on the legendary singer/songwriter, Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life. While making the documentary, Buffy told director, Joan Prowse, about the song and its environmental “call to action” message. When creating the webisode on Tzeporah, Joan paired the two activists together remembering the apt message of Buffy’s song.

No No Keshagesh is on “Running for the Drum”, co-produced with another GreenHero musician Chris Birkett. The album gave  Buffy Sainte MarieJuno award for Best Aboriginal Artist,  an Aboriginal’s People Choice Music Award (APCMA) for Best Folk Album, Best Female Artist at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and Best Single & Songwriter  for  No No Keshagesh.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, speaking up for our environment matters. Share the story of how you are spreading the word about an issue that is destroying our planet by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

TOP