Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
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Photo Courtesy of Devin Lund

We are sad to announce the earth’s loss of one of her great champions. Wangari Maathai, our GreenHero who brought trees to areas in Kenya that had been environmentally degraded, died of cancer at age 71.

In the late 1970s, after hearing Kenyan women express their need for firewood, fresh drinking water and nutritious food, Wangari rallied them and said “Let’s plant trees!” She founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya that pays groups of women to plant trees. In over 30 years, 40 million trees were planted.

Her work inspired the United Nations One Billion Trees campaign, a worldwide program whose objective is to plant one billion trees per year.

In 2004, Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for her work. In developing a tree planting program, she fostered communities and showed the world how important trees really are.

For more on Wangari’s story, view our webisode on her. To learn how you can further her movement, visit our Talking Climate Change campaign we created that was inspired by her efforts.

“We created a movement that has inspired many other people, not only in Africa, but in many other parts of the world, so that many people feel ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’” – Wangari Maathai speaking to GreenHeroes

Courtesy of Lincoln O'Barry

Planet in Focus, an environmental film festival, has announced that it will give our GreenHero Ric O’Barry the festival’s 2011 International Eco Hero award for his 40 years of activism for dolphins. Ric will be present at the festival on closing night to accept this award.

The GreenHeroes video short, produced by CineFocus Canada, will introduce Ric to the audience at the gala event.

Planet in Focus is in its 12th year and will take place in Toronto from October 12-16, 2011.

Read our newsletter to learn more about a recent press conference to announce the line-up of this year’s festival and the 2011 International and Canadian Eco Hero award winners.

GreenHero Tzeporah Berman was on The Current on CBC yesterday, speaking out against the rampant logging of Vancouver Island’s Clayoquot Sound. You can listen to the half-hour program.

Tzeporah explains why preserving this ecosystem is important not just for the environment, but for our health and the economy. She also reflects on her early act of civil disobedience and her work with corporations to reduce their impact on the environment.

She recently published a memoir called This Crazy Time: Living our Environmental Challenge

You can visit the Indigo in the Manulife Centre in Toronto, Ontario September 20th at 7 pm for Tzeporah’s talk and book signing.

Here are the dates of Tzeporah’s book tour from her website.

You can also learn what she’s up to by following @Tzeporah on Twitter.

GreenHeroes has been following the news from Leilani Munter on her efforts to halt the dolphin hunt in Taiji.

Leilani is an environmental activist and race car driver. If this seems paradoxical to you, watch our webisode on her. Leilani was inspired to fight for dolphins after watching The Cove, a documentary based on Ric O’Barry‘s work in Taiji.

She’s also a gifted writer, as we’ve seen in her blog posts for SaveJapanDolphins.org and the Huffington Post in which she updates us on the dolphin hunt and her activism on behalf of other environmental causes.

“If only they would turn these dolphin hunting boats into dolphin watching boats,” Leilani Munter, The Cove Continues: Diary From Taiji, Huffington Post, 9/14/11

She also wrote a guest post for GreenHeroes.

Leilani is very active on Twitter. Follow her for updates on her work.

GreenHero Laura Reinsborough‘s Not Far From the Tree  is bringing fall to the public!

The organization aims to promote the benefits of eating  locally by helping Toronto homeowners make use of their  harvests. Not Far From the Tree is partnering with other  organizations to put on two great events this month in the  city:

City Cider – On September 18th, 2011 from 1-5 pm, visit  The Orchard at Spadina Museum for live music, cider,  yoga for kids, and more!

Harvest Festival – On September 22, 2011 from 4-7 pm, come out to Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard for free fruit and snacks, orchard tours, children’s activities, and more!

Not Far From the Tree is also using green transportation! Check out the new cargo bikes it will use to share fresh fruit from trees in Toronto.

Why should you go local? Laura explained it in this guest post she wrote for our blog last year. Inspired by Laura’s work, Greenheroes created the Tasting Local Foods campaign in which we share information on how you how you can grow and eat locally.

Toronto is one step closer to joining California in a shark fin ban.

On Friday, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to support it.

Rob Stewart, shark activist and proponent of the ban, spoke to the Council to explain why sharks need our help.

GreenHeroes hopes that such bans will change the industry and eventually stop the cruel hunt of this now endangered animal. You can help Rob in his fight to protect sharks by signing this petition and coming out to his fundraiser 100% Fin Free: An Evening For Sharks this Wednesday night.

Want to do more? Check out United Conservationists, the NGO Rob started to protect sharks and other animals.

Loves sharks and wants you to too

Rob Stewart is the award-winning director of the multi-award winning feature documentary Sharkwater. The film, which challenges the age-old image of sharks as human-eaters, is helping to carve a new truth for sharks and elevate the reality of their plight to us all. Rob has brought attention to the urgent issue of declining shark populations worldwide. Since 1970 we have lost 90% of the planet’s sharks, owing to over-fishing sharks for shark fin soup and catching them as by-catch. Take Action now to help spread shark realities.

“If the public knew that we depend on the oceans for survival, yet we’re destroying them every day in unprecedented ways, they would take a stand, just as they spoke out for whales and for holes in the ozone layer.” – Rob Stewart, Sharkwater director, guest blogger

“Ordinary people have always made a difference and changed the world and that’s what it’s going to be in the future.”

Please support the following organizations that Rob Stewart is affiliated with:

In memory of Ray Anderson (1934-2011), GreenHeroes recently republished its posts that were inspired by his accomplishments and his campaign to conquer Mount Sustainability. This is the final post.

GreenHeroes is pleased to celebrate environmental film making in the spirit of the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival.

The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary is critical of the modern-day corporation considering its legal status as a class of person and evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person.

The Corporation has been shown worldwide. Please see http://www.thecorporation.com/.  Mark Achbar shared some thoughts with GreenHeroes about Ray Anderson who appears in this award winning documentary.

By Mark Achbar

Ray Anderson first came to my attention in the mid-90s, in an article in the Globe And Mail. What struck me about him was his willingness to be bluntly self-critical about his own business’ environmental practice.

The outlook normally delivered by CEOs of billion dollar corporations in thepress is all sunny for the next quarter, constant improvement, growth, up, up, up, and do no wrong. It was rare — perhaps unique — to see a full-on “mea culpa” in the business pages of a national newspaper.

Call it counter-branding if you will; I took him at his word and was rewarded with one of the most memorable interviews of the 70 I conducted for the film.


World premiere of The Corporation, at midnight, at a gathering on Squamish Nation land, outside of Vancouver

Ray became a strong supporter of The Corporation, and one day hosted a big screening of the film in Boston for all kinds of progressive business and design people. Before the film snacks and drinks were served.

I was wearing my “The Corporation” T-shirt, with the devil-man-halo logo on it, and all the serving staff were wearing black t-shirts with this sentence printed on them:

“Some day people like me will be put in jail”
– Ray Anderson, CEO, Interface

I quickly took the shirt off my back and made a trade with one of the medium-sized waiters.
– Mark Achbar, Director of The Corporation


Remember – in the battle to save the planet, scale the sustainability mountain. Share your story of how you’re scaling the sustainability mountain by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

In memory of Ray Anderson (1934-2011), GreenHeroes has republished its posts that were inspired by his accomplishments and his campaign to conquer Mount Sustainability.

Ray Anderson’s challenge for businesses to join him in the climb up Mount Sustainability includes a commitment to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy which is step 3.

Nissan Canada is an example of a company that now powers its head office with 100 per cent locally produced renewable electricity.

They use the generators of a company called Bullfrog Power which injects renewable electricity onto the regional grid to match the amount of power the car company’s head office uses.

In the province of Ontario, Bullfrog’s electricity comes from local wind and hydro facilities that have been certified as low impact by Environment Canada. Across all of Canada, Bullfrog Power uses the collective demand of its customers to help support the development of new renewable generation.

This video explains more about how Bullfrog uses renewable energy to support the energy demands of businesses and consumers in Canada and is an example of a source people can connect with to scale Ray’s 3rd face of Mount Sustainability.


Read GreenHeroes’ blog posts inspired by the rest of the steps of Ray Anderson’s Mount Sustainability.

Step 4: Closing the Loop

Step 5: Resource-Efficient Transportation

Step 6: Sensitizing Stakeholders

Step 7: Redesigning Commerce

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, scale the sustainability mountain. Share your story of how you’re scaling the sustainability mountain by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero!

by Joan Prowse, Producer of GreenHeroes

It was my first thought as I heard the news of Jack’s passing – Jack Layton is a hero. Not only a strong voice for the marginalized, he was also a best friend to Mother Earth.

As a city councilor he co-founded the Toronto Atmospherics Fund in 1991. Internationally recognized for its innovative and effective programs, over the past 20 years TAF has helped the City save $55 million on energy costs and helped citizens to live greener lives in healthier communities.

On a smaller scale, Jack showed us a simple way to reduce our carbon footprint. A cycling city councilor, he didn’t stop this preferred mode of transport once in office as federal NDP leader. Jack and his wife, M.P. Olivia Chow, lead by example. Check out this video of Jack giving a tour of the eco-features of their home.


Even as a busy leader of a federal party, I found Jack still took time to listen to community concerns about the environment.  As members of Community Air, John Bessai and I met with Jack in February 2003. Even though an icy wind blew on Parliament Hill that day, he stood outside and heard about our challenge to stop a bridge that facilitated expansion of an airport on Toronto’s Waterfront. Later that year, bridge construction was halted by a newly elected city council, led by mayor David Miller.

In reading the text to Stephen Lewis’ eulogy, I am glad that the rest of the country recognized Jack Layton’s contribution to our country.

For the planet, it is our sincere hope that we all “resolve to honour Jack by bringing the politics of respect for all, respect for the Earth and respect for principle and generosity back to life.”

A moment in time – Jack Layton and Olivia Chow celebrate their dual federal election victory, October 14, 2008. Photo credit: John Bessai