It’s time for us to pay homage to those celebrities in Hollywood who are using their elevated exposure to the general public to promote good, positive and sustainable behaviour.
Almost everything Leo has done in cinema has been nothing short of genius. His record-breaking performance in Titanic, his euphoria and madness in The Beach, and his capacity for misleading an audience in both Inception and Shutter Island all stand out. However, as a side mission (though perhaps now a priority), he’s been one of the planet’s most vocal environmental activists and campaigners since 1998, when he started his own foundation.
For twenty years, he has been on a mission to bring clean drinking water to disadvantaged areas, t health to our oceans, rainforests and antarctic land, and also to protect endangered species. He’s the all round green champion, the king of eco-friendly celebrities and homes in Belize and New York are said to be some of the most eco-friendly residential builds in the world.
He’s been given the UN Messenger of Peace, the Clinton Global Citizen Award, the Mary Litton Environment Award and more. He’s played a huge role in some of the most influential and essential environmental documentaries of the modern day, Water Planet, Global Warning, and The 11th Hour. He raised $40m for his charity in one day with an art auction, telling auctioneers ‘bid as if the fate of the planet depends on it’.
And, in case you missed it, when he (finally) won an Oscar in 2016, he dedicated it to the environment, saying: “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.“
American singer-songwriter Jack Johnson is one of nature’s great protectors, and perhaps that comes from his past as a professional surfer. Those who have experienced ocean plastic waste first hand are often changed by it. Well, Jack certainly is, because he donated 100% of the profit from his last two tours to environmental causes. In 2008, he even set up his own cause, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, to bring lasting change to musical education, arts and the environment.
It gets better. Before before a band plays a big concert, they usually get to make a list of demands, like certain foods, expensive champagne, etc. Johnson uses this opportunity to demand hosts install LED light bulbs, that they separate recyclables from the waste stream, and that they purchase carbon dioxide offsetting to cover the emissions from the show. Once they’ve met his demands, he turns up on his biofuel tour bus and wows the crowds!
The Princess Diaries was Hathaway’s breakthrough role, about an unassuming girl who discovers she is a princess and can use the role for good, and it bares some resemblance to her life. Coming from an acting family, she has used her rise as an actress to leave a positive stamp on the world.
Her wedding, for example, was her day to be a princess (finally), but she took the opportunity to send a message. The menu was vegan and sustainably sourced, and all of the profits raised from selling her wedding photography to magazines were split between four charities.
She is an advocate of sustainable fashion, and is known for wearing second-hand or vintage pieces instead of buying new. When her movie The Colossal came out, she only wore sustainable fashion items, as a statement of course.
Some more brilliant eco-friendly celebrities
Kevin Costner is an activist in cleaning up oil spills, Thom Yorke is a vocal campaigner against plastics, and Penelope Cruz set up a mission to get celebrities to use electric cars and hybrids. Matt Damon set up a water technology charity to help developing countries, Jessica Alba started a range of eco-friendly baby products, and Sir Paul McCartney is calling on people to go vegetarian, at least some of the time. Why stop there, Willie Nelson is a pro-eco-agriculture activist and makes biofuels, Brad Pitt set up the Make It Right foundation to build sustainable and green housing for communities in need, and Edward Norton set up a scheme with BP to give solar panels to low-income families in the US.
It seems Hollywood is full of eco-friendly celebrities!