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Running for the planet

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Actor Matt Hill, 40, and motivational speaker Stephanie Tait, 26, are running full out for planet Earth.

The goal of their adventure is to raise awareness about the perils facing Mother Earth and what everyday people can do easily to be part of the solution.

The Vancouver residents were at Durham Natural Foods Monday as part of a cross-continent 11,000 mile marathon that will take them a year to complete.

Their non-profit organization, called Run For One Planet, is organizing the trek. Financially they hope to raise $1 million to fund more green marathons in cities across the continent.

Hill is a seven time Ironman competitor and is the voice of Rafael in the Ninja Turtles. Tait is a personal success coach and national speaker.

"It is our vision that the daily action of us running for one year will inspire others to take steps to help the environment; one person at a time, one action at a time, one step at a time," said their release.

They have endured rainstorms, sleet, a mudslide and tendonitis since they left Vancouver May 4, 2008. They just came from Sault Ste Marie and are headed for Barrie.

Last night they rested at the Richard Lake campground. The couple have received sponsorship from a wide number of green companies and organizations including Carmanah Technologies, Planet Organic, Go Power as well as mainstream companies such as BC Hydro, Home Depot and Telus.

So far they have covered 3,909 kilometres, raised $42,242 and inspired people to undertake 881 new actions for their world.

The couple are presenting a 10 point checklist that anyone can follow to lessen their impact on the environment.

1. Eat local and organic

2. Turn off your car

3. Eliminate plastic bags

4. Use green cleaners

5. Turn off the lights

6. Turn off the taps

7. Reduce, reuse, recycle

8. Compost

9. Bring your own bottle

10. Teach your children well

For their part, the RV they are driving across the continent uses up to 20 percent biofuels in its diesel engine, following the engine manufacturers guidelines in order to maintain their vehicle warranty.

However, their biofuels are from non food crop sources such as tallow or beef fat, rapeseed oil and canola oil.

"These do not enter the food chain but newer technology is coming on stream that uses cellulose from wood and crop waste. Our sources for biofuels for the RV are from Vancouver," said Hill.

The couple are choosing to eat as much local food as they can find to reduce the food miles their meals generate, from farm to food store.

Two 120 watt solar panels on the roof can run electrical devices.

"Even on a cloudy day they can generate enough electricity for lights and the computer inside after the current is changed to household current through an inverter," he said.

The RV even sports a compost where red worms eat the organic kitchen waste. The vermicomposter is a hit with kids. "They enjoy the wriggly worms."

People are getting the message, said Hill.

"There was an interview a few months ago with David Suzuki, Canada's foremost environmentalist, who said environmentalism has waxed and waned over the past decades," he said.

"But this time he said that more people are getting the message. They sense that something is amiss out there. From watching the news about declining oil fields, depleted fisheries and growing deforestation in the Third World they understand we are taking three times more from the planet than is sustainable."

The couple find their message is resonating in Ontario.

"Out west people are sympathetic and will listen to us, but here in Ontario we are noticing they are more ready to take action. There seems to be a higher level of environmental awareness here the further east we travel," said Tait.

For more information, visit www.runforoneplanet.com.