Leilani Munter, the world’s number one eco-athlete realizes that she may come across as an oxymoron. When she isn’t fighting for the welfare of the environment and sustainable practices, she’s burning rubber in her 200mph racecar. Some people don’t get it; how could someone who drives racecars possibly care about the environment? The answer is quite simple: she’s an environmental advocate who simply loves racing. End of story (sort of). In fact, she is really impressed that the environment can even be talked about in a place like NASCAR. Leilani proves she not only is dedicated to her work, but she is extraordinarily passionate, citing the buzz created about her is nothing more than positive. Munter’s passion for sustainable living is extremely inspiring, for she not only realizes that we can make a difference at the individual level, but makes every fiber of her being an impetus for change. While not racing, she drives an electric car, fosters acres upon acres of rainforest, and advocates for numerous avenues of environmental protection. If we all could contribute to the environment even a fraction of what she does, the world would look a lot greener. Leilani even uses her racecar as a billboard of sorts, advocating important issues to millions upon millions of people. As someone from Charlotte, I can attest to the INSANE amount of attention anything NASCAR draws. Her efforts aren’t only being noticed, but taken note of.
So this sounds great, but why would Leilani come to Davidson or quite frankly, why should anyone care? Munter came to be a keynote speaker at the Sustainability Office’s screening of the award-winning documentary, The Cove. This movie really opened my eyes to global issues concerning the animals and environments that we love. Munter, as it turns out, promoted the film with her racecar, so it was only fitting to have her bless the viewers with her knowledge and passion. Incredibly, the film’s followup, Racing Extinction features her as the getaway driver, combiing her love of driving fast and doing what is best for the Earth. Yet, as inspiring as this is, it would be impossible to pursue something in the same fashion as Munter; it would seem so miniscule. This is where some of her advice came into play. She spoke a lot of never giving up, no matter the risk, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Her very livelihood stems from this principle, which is tremendously empowering. As long as we find a cause, whether it be environmental, social, or economic, and pursue it to the best of our abilities we will find success. Collectively, with this attitude it seems that Davidson and perhaps even the larger community can make an impact and continue to be Game Changers.
Check out Racing Extinction’s website to learn about it and everyone involved in the effort: https://www.racingextinction.com/#/
As a side note, the Cove features a really interesting perspective on the domineering nature businesses have over food that the community consumes. It was found that the dolphins that were killed by the thousands were used in school lunches in many of the neighboring villages or disguised as other meat types. Dolphin meat, unfortunately, has excruciatingly high mercury levels due to the biomagnification of contamination in their water. Leilani helped document many of the dolphin fisheries after the filming of The Cove and continues to work on food issues today.