Posts Tagged With: green

Leilani Münter

Leilani Münter is a race car-driving environmental activist. Sounds unusual? It is, because she is one of a kind. After studying biology at the University of California, San Diego, this self-described “adrenaline junkie” discovered she had a knack for racing fast cars. That was the start of a new career for her, but she brought her environmental passions along for the ride.

Since her start in 2001, Leilani has had nine top 5 finishes in the male-dominated sport. Amidst competing, Leilani has been working to change the car racing industry from the inside out. In 2007, she became the first driver to neutralize her carbon footprint by adopting an acre of rainforest each time she races. In 2012 at Daytona, she spotlighted dolphin kills in Taiji, Japan with “The Cove” movie logo emblazoned on her car (she also gave away copies of the documentary to fans). Her overall goal is to green the entire enterprise by ensuring that racing stadiums are powered by renewable energy, race cars run on biofuels, and used tires are recycled. Leilani knows that some people think she’s crazy trying to change a practice that seems far from “green”, but this rallier firmly disbelieves in preaching to the choir.

Leilani says:

“If I stopped racing, I would not take a race car off the grid. I would just be replaced by another driver. Likely one that doesn’t go out of their way to take care of the environment, is not offsetting their carbon footprint with rainforest, and is not promoting green technologies at the racetrack. I would simply lose my ability to talk to 75 million race fans about green living and hopefully win some of them over.”*

After all, Leilani asserts, “That’s how you start creating change, by having a dialogue with people who don’t agree with you.“** And she certainly has a large audience to speak to- car racing is the #1 spectator sport in the US, and the second most watched sport on television. It is a fitting place to start showcasing sustainability in the 21st century (and a burgeoning one at that: in 2010, the Pocono Raceway installed a complete 25-acre solar farm and this year, NASCAR began using 15% biofuel in its cars). 

When Leilani is not advocating on the track, you can find her participating in dolphin hunt protests, lobbying Congress, or writing guest pieces for various green blogs. Food sustainability sits close to her heart, and Leilani, a vegetarian since age 6, wants people to consider their meal’s carbon footprint (she points out that “40% more greenhouse gas emissions come from raising animals for food than all the planes, trains, cars, SUVs, ships, and race cars in the world combined”). She also promotes the use of reusable shopping bags and energy efficient light bulbs and wants legislators to transition to supporting a green economy. Leilani says:

Green jobs in the form of renewable energy are waiting to be created, but we need Washington to act now to phase out the old fossil fuel economy, cut subsidies for oil and coal, and reward clean renewable energy that will create thousands of jobs here in the U.S. We need a smart grid to support electric cars, infrastructure for cars running on alternative fuels, and green buildings utilizing energy efficient systems and capturing solar and wind wherever we can and being able to send that energy captured back into the electrical grid.***

Leilani believes our continued reliance on oil poses national security issues and hopes to one day see gas stations being revamped as electric car charging stations. She knows the fight won’t be easy though…after all, she points out, “The top five oil companies spend $150 million every year on 750 full time lobbyists that live in DC working to get the laws written in their favor.”***

To learn more about Leilani (who was voted the #1 eco athlete in the world by Discovery’s Planet Green):

-visit her website (she even lists movie recommendations there!)
-read her essay “Why A Plant Based Diet Will Save the World“.
-*read the Discovery interview “Vegetarian Hippie Chick Leilani Münter Drives Change with Her Race Car“, 11/29/12.
-**read the CNN article “She’s Racing to Save the Environment“, 9/2/10.
-***read the Eco-Chick article “Heroines for the Planet: Race Car Driver & Environmental Activist Leilani Munter“, 7/1/11.

Categories: Leilani Munter, North Carolina | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beth Shea

Beth Shea is a “green” mom and blogger and founder of the website Petite Planet. Formerly a beauty writer, she changed gears after discovering the myriad of toxins prevalent in the items she was featuring. Worried about the toxins’ harmful effects on her pregnancy and health, she resolved to make her home and daughter’s life as pure and chemical-free as possible. She started writing Petite Planet so that other parents could benefit from everything she learned along the way, believing that every “baby step” counts.

Beth’s top tips for moms to green the home are:

  1. Keep chemicals out of your baby’s feeding routine and out of your household cleaning regimen (breastfeed or use BPA-free baby bottles with silicone nipples and organic formula; use non-toxic utensils and dinnerware; and use all-natural cleaners or chemical-free, non-toxic cleaners such as Seventh Generation).
  2. Use cloth diapers and reusable baby wipes (such as gDiapers, which contain flushable inserts).
  3. Buy wooden, non-toxic, handmade toys instead of plastic ones.
  4. Use chemical-free bath products, bath tubs and bath toys (phthalate-free, BPA-free, and PVC-free).
  5. Remove your shoes at the door to avoid bringing in pesticides, lead dust and pollutants.

Beth has also taken on other changes in her household to attain more eco-friendly, healthy living, such as eating organic, locally-grown, non-GMO foods, limiting meat intake, recycling, walking instead of driving, using reusable bags, and limiting her family’s consumerism. She says that:

“from the moment I got pregnant, I had an awakening that it is every individual’s responsibility to tread lightly on this planet so future generations may inherit a better tomorrow. I think green design should become the rule as opposed to the exception.”

She believes that eventually, living “green” will become the norm, but until that point, she is happy to continue educating and helping families make changes to their lifestyles. Beth is confident that “all the little things we do add up to make a huge difference in improving health on an individual and global level, and that we’re all capable of taking baby steps to go green!

Categories: Beth Shea, Oregon | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor John Fetterman

Mayor John Fetterman (or Mayor John, as he likes to be called) is the -you guessed it- Mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania. After coming to Braddock in 2001 to work in a youth program, he was inspired by the towns “malignant beauty” and decided to stay. Wanting some leverage to help revitalize the post-industrial town in disrepair, he ran for Mayor and won by one vote. Since then, he’s been on a misson to save the city that has lost 90% of its population and business since its steel industry left in the 1980s.

Braddock, Pennsylvania is a small town near Pittsburgh with a population less than 3,000 (down from a former population of 20,000). In its heyday, it was bustling and prosperous. However, because of America’s tendency to have a “laissez-faire” approach to failing cities (unlike its approach to failing banks), once the industry left town, there were few attempts to preserve the community. People left in droves and buildings lost so much of their value that landlords resorted to burning them down. The town, however, has not lost its strong-willed and they are the residents that give Mayor John hope to turn the area around. He believes that no community deserves to be abandoned.

Already having reached its low point, Mayor John believes that Braddock has no way to go but up. With a 25% unemployment rate, Mayor John’s vision is for Braddock to have a green-infused rejuvenation. He sees the abandoned steel plants and buildings as a foundation for a green energy sector. He sees the 1,000 vacant lots from demolished structures as spaces to institute urban agriculture (the town no longer has a grocery store). With an influx of wind turbine and solar panel production, the town would have jobs for its residents in a field that marks America’s future. Urban gardens would not only provide a healthy source of food for the community but would also provide kids with something productive to do- an alternative to getting involved in the streets.

Mayor John’s number one focus is to give Braddock hope, by focusing on improving its social justice. As he says, “everyone deserves to live in a community where they’re safe and where conditions are continually improving”. He has used art as one way to inspire the community and promote its expansion. His non-profit, Braddock Redux, helps run the Braddock Youth Project, a summer program for teens that teaches them silkscreening skills and how to create PSAs. It also offers a renovated art space with cheap rent to attract more artists to the community. Mayor John also supports graffiti art and has allowed local groups to make their mark in ways that enhance the community’s landscape. He believes that all of his efforts are part of a larger “organic grassroots community building”.

With median housing prices around $5,000, Braddock has potential for newcomers to start afresh. The Mayor’s website describes the town as: “richly historic, large enough to matter, small enough to impact, [presenting] an unparallelled opportunity for the urban pioneer, artist, or misfit to join in building a new kind of community.” Braddock and other rust belt cities represent a new “frontier” for 21st century development, which Mayor John sees in the green revolution. He doesn’t plan on leaving the town anytime soon and will continue to fight for its revival.

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