The Bold, the Beautiful, the Rich, the Famous, the Green, and the otherwise Eco-licious
Some of them have captured our hearts by way of the silver screen. Some have charmed us with their music. And even others have wowed us by their feats of strength. Yet all have taken a stand for the environment. And for that, we are even more impressed.
Leonardo DiCaprio may have made a big splash with Titanic but now he’s making waves in the environmental arena. If you’re lucky, you may see him around town driving his hybrid Toyota Prius and if you’re really lucky, you may get seated next to him on a commercial flight (that’s right, he flies with the rest of us instead of guzzling jet fuel on privately chartered flights). He also founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998 to champion environmental causes including climate change and biodiversity and produced and narrated a new documentary film called the 11th Hour about humanity’s impacts on the natural environment.
In between record breaking swims, Australian Tammy van Wisse takes a breath to speak out for the environment. In 2000, she started on a journey to swim the entire length of the Murray River (2,438 kilometers or 1,515 miles!). Not only was this the first time anyone had ever accomplished the trip, she also generated funds and publicity for the river’s environmental problems including salinity and toxic algal blooms. She has continued in this vein as a campaigner and public speaker for water quality issues.
Pearl Jam has not only topped the charts of grunge rock, they’ve also hit major highs of environmental stardom from benefit concerts to biodiesel buses to renewable energy investments. They offset 5,700 tons of carbon dioxide emissions generated during their 2003 world tour through donations to Conservation International which went to protecting rainforests in Madagascar. In 2004, they were part of the Vote for Change tour that raised $77,000 for small-scale solar energy and wind power plants. Through their 2006 Carbon Portfolio Strategy, they donated $100,000 to nine organizations involved in issues such as climate change and renewable energy.
You may know him as the Terminator or as the Governator. But either way, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has pumped it up and made some very remarkable leaps and bounds in environmental policy. He has threatened to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for acting too slowly on California’s request to clean up cars and trucks; he signed the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 which is the first enforceable state-wide program in the country to limit all greenhouse gas emissions from major industries; he has teamed up with governors from Oregon and Washington to protect the Pacific Ocean; he also launched the California Environmental Contaminant Biomonitoring Program to track human exposures to toxic chemicals leading to illnesses including cancer and asthma. Governor Schwarzenegger is definitely no girlie man.
She might not have won the contest for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign song, but KT Tunstall’s been suddenly seeing her commitment to the environment for quite some time. Along with running her tour bus on biodiesel, Tunstall has performed at green events including Elle Magazine’s Green Issue party and e! Entertainment Television's “Golden Green” Golden Globes after-party. She also was a part of the Live Earth event and is affiliated with The CarbonNeutral Company, a group working to facilitate voluntary action against climate change by individuals, businesses, and governments. Tunstall worked with CarbonNeutral and her fans to offset her album’s carbon dioxide emissions by planting more than 5,000 trees in Scotland’s Carrifan Wildwood. She has also worked with Global Cool, a foundation bringing entertainment and science together to raise environmental awareness and fight global warming.
The Kodak Gallery Pro Cycling Team, presented by Sierra Nevada, pedaled into the spotlight when they became the first carbon-neutral pro sports team in the United States. Through their partnership with Renewable Choice Energy, the team offsets 100% of their carbon emissions (including team travel, support crew, and team members’ home electricity use) with the generation of clean, renewable wind power. So far, they have offset the equivalent of not burning 345,000 pounds of coal or planting 8,460 trees.
Even since his days as the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford has been a dedicated and active environmentalist. In 1970, he was a founding member of the Natural Resources Defense Council (he is currently a trustee and funded the super-green office building that bears his name in Santa Monica). He has strongly supported renewable energy through avenues ranging from his own passive solar design home to involvement with the San Francisco-based organization Vote Solar. More recently, on his cable channel, Redford launched "The Green," the first regularly-scheduled block of television programming dedicated to environmental issues. The Green features a variety of documentaries on topics such as Andy Goldsworthy’s natural artworks and the 1984 disaster in Bhopal.
Jack Johnson’s contribution to the environmental movement is no brushfire fairytale. The singer-songwriter-surfer co-founded the non-profit Kokua Hawaii Foundation which works to further environmental education in Hawaiian schools and communities. He’s also no flake when it comes to trying to offset the environmental impact of his concert tours: he has chosen to use biodiesel-powered buses, sold eco-friendly merchandise like hemp tote bags and organic cotton t-shirts, influenced venues to become greener (as a result of hosting Johnson’s show, the Meriweather Post Pavilion revamped their recycling program, developed a composting system, and switched to florescent and LED lighting), contributed to the Native Energy Fund for the creation of wind energy, and partnered with 1% for the Planet, an alliance in which members donate 1% or more of their annual net revenues to environmental organizations.