Some celebrities make a mockery of their lives in the limelight, others recognize their unique position of influence and act responsibly upon it. And when it comes to the environment, there are 10 notable faces bringing special awareness.
When Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar this year, he took the opportunity to clarify one thing:
“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.”
DiCaprio is speaking from years of experience and education. He created the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998 to protect the world’s last wild places. He has since pledged a donation of $15 million to over 30 environmental groups through his foundation, in addition to $1 million to Elephant Crisis Fund to combat illegal poaching and another $3 million to Oceana, one of the largest marine advocacy groups in the world.
DiCaprio’s achievements extent to speaking to the UN panel on Climate Change as UN Messenger of Peace. When our boy’s not starring in Oscar-nominated films, he’s investing his time in our future. And that is why he is at the top of our list of celebrities saving the planet.
You can watch his whole Oscar speech here.
While he may play a maniacal vampire on “The Vampire Diaries,” Ian Somerhalder has a heart for the living species inhabiting our planet. In 2010, he created the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, whose mission “aims to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures.” Ian received the 2012 Most Responsible Celebrity award from the International Green Awards committee for his efforts in inspiring youth to get involved in creating positive change.
The foundation created a program called “MobSTIRS” for kids who are passionate about protecting animals and the environment. Most recenlty, he collaborated with WildAid to ‘Join the Herd’, a campaign that aims to end the illegal ivory trade and elephant poaching by spreading the message through social media.
Yes, Gisele’s a bombshell, but her contributions to the environment should be just as noted. The supermodel was granted 2011 Greenest International Celebrity of the Year by the Green Awards. She’s a UN Environmental Goodwill Ambassador, a board member for the Rainforest Alliance, and Co-Founder (along with her father) of the Clean Water Project in her hometown Horizontina, Brazil. Harvard Medical School even honored her with their Global Environmental Citizens Award. We think those accomplishments make her worthy of a spot on our list.
Ruffalo is the founder of Water Defense, a non-profit using “technology and public engagement to keep our waterways and drinking water sources free from contamination and industrial degradation.” He also sits on the board for The Solutions Project, a foundation working towards making the transition to 100% renewable energy worldwide. The project was awarded the Rose-Walters Prize for Environmental Activism by Dickinson College.
In an article he wrote for grist.com, Ruffalo wrote how “it’s not enough to oppose fracking and fossil fuels. We need to support an energy solution for every state in this country.” Recently, he was in Flint, Michigan assisting Water Defense raise awareness around the water crisis that community is experiencing. When it comes to the environment, Ruffalo’s superhero actions definitely transcend the screen.
As the writer and director of the movie ‘Avatar’ and a self-described environmentalist, Cameron fights for environmental causes both on and off the big screen. Avatar not only demonstrated the importance of protecting our planet, but was the highest grossing movie of all time.
During one interview he stated, “There is no studio anywhere in the world who would say an environmental message would make $3 billion … I can’t think of any other really commercially successful ones, can you?”
As a partnership created by Cameron between Avatar and the Earth Day Network, The Home Tree Initiative planted more than one million trees in 15 countries, the first of which he planted himself. Cameron practices environmentalism in his own home; his family switched to a plant-based diet after filming. The director even designed solar panels that look like sunflowers!
Speaking of ‘Avatar,’ Weaver, who played scientist Dr. Grace Augustine in the film, is an environmentalist herself. When asked about the environmental message in ‘Avatar,’ Weaver said, “a huge environmental message comes through the film, and it also seems to empower us with ownership of the planet — that it is up to us to fight for our natural resources and our natural landscapes and our fellow species.”
In 2009, she helped produce a documentary film called Acid Test about the dangers of ocean acidification and testified on Capitol Hill about the threats acidification poses. She accompanied Cameron and his wife, to the Amazon Rainforest to bring awareness to the destruction an installed hydroelectric dam cause on the lives of indigenous people.
President Barack Obama
During the recent climate conference in Paris, 196 countries signed on to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and President Obama helped to finalize the agreement. He pushed for many regulations concerning green energy and offshore drilling.
“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it,” Obama said. “You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”
Hannah has starred in a number of movies, including the Quentin Tarantino cult favorite Kill Bill series. Outside of acting, Hannah sits on several environmental advisory boards and founded the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, an organization committed to promoting sustainable biodiesel, from harvesting to production to distribution.
She has been arrested a few times, all in the name of protecting the environment. In 2006, she was arrested for holding a 23 day long sit-in in a tree; in 2009, for protesting mountaintop removal and mining; and finally in 2013, she was arrested after handcuffing herself to the White House fence in defiance to the Keystone Pipeline, urging President Obama to reject the plan (which he later did).
Hannah has said, “[w]e just basically need to get off fossil fuels… We now know how to create energy and power and fuel other ways and that’s what we need to start doing because we’re killing ourselves and every other living thing.”
You can follow her vlog on dhlovelife.com.
Fun fact: Jack Johnson was once a professional surfer.
After an injury took him out of the water for a while, Johnson started focusing on his music and the environment, eventually establishing The Kokua Foundation, a environmental protection organization working to protect the islands that make up his beautiful home state of Hawaii. The Foundation holds benefit concerts to raise money and brings environmental education programs to schools around the islands.
While on the road touring with his crew, they use reusable water bottles and his latest album Sleep through the Static was “recorded using 100 percent solar energy and printed on recycled paper… His tour buses and trucks run on biodiesel (and) tour T-shirts are made of organic cotton.” In 2015, Johnson was appointed to UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Program.
McCartney says it best when explaining why she decided to build a luxury fashion empire using sustainable and cruelty-free resources:“If you’re mindful of how you’re approaching your life, then you see the connection. You can’t avoid the connection… between food, illness, environment. I want to see everything as a whole, so that’s how I approach life, and that’s how it comes into my business.”
McCartney, daughter of Beatle Paul McCartney grew up vegetarian on an organic farm, and said the decision to build her brand compassionately was natural. With an emphasis on recycling and offices that are powered by renewable energy sources, McCartney continues to set standards.
She is a part of Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) Clean by Design Program, which aims to reduce the use of water by about 25% and energy by about 30% in textile manufacturing. She was honored by the NRDC for her work pioneering environmental work in fashion. Stella is showing the world that luxury can, and should, be synonymous with environmental friendliness.