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Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
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Photo credit: The Boston Bruins

By Joan Prowse, Director

I really love this week’s episode because it’s about oxymorons. Despite working in fields that depend heavily on fossil fuels, these GreenHeroes have nevertheless found ways to help protect the planet.

Take Boston Bruins’ defenseman, Andrew Ference, as an example. He turned the jet-setting NHL Player’s Association onto carbon offsets. Virtually every player in the NHL now contributes to programs that help the environment.

Professional racecar driver Leilani Münter also offsets her sport by buying an acre of rainforest for every race she drives.

By the way, she only accepts sponsorships for her racecar from green businesses, and in so doing, uses the car as a big billboard for the environment.

Both Andrew and Leilani are tapping into their extensive fan base to extend the reach of environmentalism beyond the committed “deep greens” to the “mushy middle” – those of us who want to do something but have yet to take action. The two of them both visited the site of the giant oil spill in Louisiana in July to bring further attention to the problem there.

These two heroes have faced their share of criticism. In the middle of a brawl, Andrew’s been called a “tree-hugger”, and Leilani certainly has put up with a lot of criticism as a woman speaking out for the environment in a gas-guzzling, male-dominated sport.


Photo credit: Craig Davidson

It seems the naysayers have it out for people who are trying to make a difference. Just this past week a friend of mine, who works in the Alberta Tar Sands (of all places) asked me if I didn’t feel like a hypocrite jet-setting around the world to tell my stories.

My answer was simple – I’m doing my part by making stories of incredible people known through the airwaves and the Internet. What I’m hoping to do is change minds – like yours – across the globe.

Want to be a part of the action? Learn more about this week’s featured GreenHero, Wangari Maathai and start Talking Climate Change by visiting our campaign page!

Oil Changers premières on TVO tonight at 7 p.m. and repeats on Saturday, December 3 at 4 p.m.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, it’s time to speak up:
Share your story of how you’re starting a discussion on climate change and the environment and how you’re making your voice heard 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.

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



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!

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

We all watched in horror this summer after millions of barrels of oil gushed into the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico, destroying valuable ecosystems and peoples’ livelihoods. Though the spill has been sealed off, our fear is that history will repeat itself if we don’t recover from our serious addiction to oil. And, we’re not the only ones.

On Tuesday, July 13, 2010, Andrew Ference was part of a group of athletes, including our own GreenHero Leilani Munter, that headed down to the Gulf of Mexico with Sierra Club to view firsthand the damage wreaked from the spill.

It was amazing for us to see this collaboration; despite their athletic differences (those represented were from the NFL, NHL and Olympic medalists), these athletes were connected by a single cause, and a single drive for change.

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The trip highlighted the connection between sports, health, and a clean environment. It also reminded us of the urgency of moving towards clean energy. Oil is dirty and dangerous, and the way we choose to move around, by train, plane, or automobile, sends a message to our decision makers about how we should be meeting our energy demands. Andrew reflected most succinctly after what he saw:

“I’m a father of two girls, and that’s a huge motivation. It comes down to the fact that my parents’ generation can maybe have an excuse as why some of these things have crept up, but now that I have kids, those excuses are gone. We have every technology available now to change how we get our power. We have to listen to what is going on in this world. What is missing is the willpower to do it.”

To view photos of the spill taken by Leilani Munter, check out this gallery.

To send a message to US President Barack Obama, visit the Sierra Club site.

In Canada, you can find out more about what is being done to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and speak up with Greenpeace or with the Polaris Institute.

Leilani Munter is an ambassador of the National Wildlife Federation, where you can donate to help affected wildlife.

To learn more about how you can put your pedal to the metal, and reduce your dependence on gas guzzlers, check out our Pedal Power campaign page!

And don’t forget to leave a comment here or on Andrew’s profile page to show your support and let others know how you’re using your bike to change the planet!

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

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

In case you don’t know it, biking is the most efficient method of transportation ever invented. In fact, short distance motor-vehicle trips are the least fuel efficient and generate the most pollution per kilometer. And, while motor vehicle emissions represent 31% of total carbon dioxide emissions polluted, a short bicycle ride keeps 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air.

Andrew Ference, a National Hockey League (NHL) superstar with the Boston Bruins, had his “aha!” moment after meeting with David Suzuki, recognizing that it doesn’t take much to make small changes in our lives to create major collective impacts.

Andrew spearheaded a partnership between the NHL and the David Suzuki Foundation, forming the Carbon Neutral Challenge to inspire over 500 hockey players to offset their carbon emissions from travel. He went on to travel to the Gulf of Mexico, in July 2010, to speak up and raise awareness on the BP oil spill and our unquenched thirst for oil.

More astounding still, is Andrew’s personal dedication to change; he bikes to work every day to reduce his environmental impact. Biking instead of driving helps mitigate ozone depletion, air pollution, smog, and noise pollution.

The actions of offsetting and finding alternative ways of moving around have major positive impacts on our air, our climate and the future of our planet. His actions, though seemingly small, reach hundreds of thousands of fans, that he hopes will drive their cars less and pick up their bicycles.

“The macho thing about hockey is respect…that’s how I view changing your lifestyle and doing the right thing. It’s about respecting your kids and about the future generation. The most powerful thing to do when you want change is just to lead by example.”

– Andrew Ference


The 2008 launching of the Carbon Neutral Challenge between the NHL and the David Suzuki Foundation.

You can also watch Andrew’s own GreenHero profile video to learn more about his inspiring work and how he’s changing his life to reduce his environmental footprint. To learn how you can change the way you travel, start biking, and act yourself, visit our Pedal Power campaign page. Don’t forget to leave a comment on his profile page and the Pedal Power campaign page!

And to read more about players taking the Carbon Neutral Challenge, visit the NHLPA site here. For useful biking resources, visit the Toronto Cyclists’ Union site, which includes guides and route maps. Similar resources exist for major Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec, and Halifax.

Do you ride your bike to work? Do you hop on your bike when you need to get somewhere? What are some of the benefits you’ve had from biking, and how do you see a better biking future? Share your story here for your chance to win a prize in our contest!

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, exercising your pedal power is key. Enter our contest to nominate a bike riding hero, highlighting the challenges they face and how they overcome them.

Let us know about your ride to work, how you envision a better biking future, or your efforts as a bicycle innovator, using bike-powered solutions to change the planet. Contest details, prizing, and more information can be found here.

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

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

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