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When Leilani went down to the Gulf with the Sierra Club to view the impacts of the BP oil spill, she was not the only athlete with the environment on her mind.

As it turns out, there’s a community of athletes committed to making the world a greener place, because though we all have a stake in the environment, these individuals call the earth, the air, and the water their playground; they depend on its health every day for their jobs.

Leilani is a part of an incredible community of athletes called Athletes for a Healthy Planet (A4HP), some of whom went down to the Gulf with her and Andrew Ference. We were drawn to these athletes, because despite responding to an environmental issue seemingly out of their realm of work and interest, these individuals continue to search for solutions and promote understanding of the impacts of destructive environmental practices.

A4HP promotes the idea that a healthy planet impacts our health, economy, jobs, national security, social justice, and overall quality of life. Our own GreenHero Leilani is joined by Mike Richter, National Hockey League (NHL) champion goalie, Connie Carpenter, Olympic Gold medal cyclist, Billie Jean King, tennis champion, John McEnroe, tennis legend, Mark Messier, NHL icon, Angela Ruggiero, four-time Olympic Medalist.

Their message is clear: we cannot wait.

Political bickering has stalled the process of finding a solution, and the most harmful thing we can do, is do nothing at all. If you live in the U.S., you can join A4HP by using their online Advocacy Tool to contact your Senator. If you live in Canada, visit our Oil Changers campaign page for tools on contacting your MP.

We’ve got our own shining athletes in Canada, too. Play it Cool is an exciting initiative in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, which raises awareness about the harmful damages of climate change and introduces ways of taking action. We learned about Play it Cool through our GreenHero Andrew Ference, who worked with the David Suzuki Foundation to form the NHL Carbon Neutral Challenge to reduce his and 500 other NHL players’ carbon footprints.

Other Play it Cool members include Hayley Wickenheiser Captain, Canadian Women’s Hockey Team, Jennifer Heil, Canadian Freestyle Canadian Ski Team, and Justin Lamoureux, Canadian Half Pipe Team. Understanding that climate change affects how these athletes train and compete, Play it Cool encourages them to spread their message, and to offset their emissions using Gold Standard offsets, the highest-quality offsets in the world.

As of February 10, 2010, athletes in the Play it Cool program have collectively offset 509 tonnes of carbon! Find out how to sign up your own team and offset your emissions by visiting our Oil Changers campaign page.

Have you checked anything off our Cool Climate Checklist? Here are a few more tips from the David Suzuki Foundation on keeping green with your team:

Follow Play it Cool on Twitter.
Become a fan of Play it Cool on Facebook.

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!

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