Let’s take a look at the many celebrities making their contribution to a more eco-friendly future, from Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio to Toby McGuire.
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t makes a welcome change to see celebrities using their enormous power and influence to stand up for environmental causes such as climate change, animal cruelty and deforestation. By making changes in the home, in the way they travel and even in the clothes they wear, these stars set an important example to their fans, and add a much-needed touch of glamour to environmental issues that could make all the difference in motivating the younger generation.
The late Linda McCartney inspired a generation of vegetarians with her cookbooks, Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking (co-authored by Peter Cox), Linda’s Kitchen and Simple and Inspiring Ideas for Meat-Free Meals. With husband Paul, McCartney supported animal rights organizations such as PETA, advocated ‘Meat Free Mondays’ and spoke out against cruel sports. After his wife’s death in 1998, Paul McCartney said that the best tribute to Linda would be for others to support the causes she had cared so passionately about – or to go veggie themselves.
After a glamorous night of partying in Hollywood, you won’t find these vegetarian celebrities recovering over a greasy fry-up. Linda McCartney’s vegetarian commitment lives on through her daughter, fashion designer Stella McCartney, whose clothing lines use neither leather nor real fur.
Actress Natalie Portman’s line of vegan shoes go that step further, while Toby McGuire refuses entry to his home to any guest wearing leather products, including shoes and belts. Though almost vegan, the “Spiderman” actor is nonetheless prepared to consume egg and milk products in order to build muscle for film roles. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is a committed vegan. Miley Cyrus also recently declared her vegetarianism.
An increasing number of celebrities are showing a commitment to sustainable living by modifying their homes to include environmentally-friendly features. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s home is powered by solar panels, as is actress Cate Blanchett’s, with rainwater tanks to offset tap-water usage. Blanchett also participated in Sydney’s Walk Against Warming march, is a patron for SolarAid and helped with the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Who On Earth Cares Campaign.
Actress Cameron Diaz has declared that, in her eco efforts, she pays carbon offsets and minimises unnecessary toilet flushing. She also supports Act Green, and was a prominent speaker at the 2007 Live Earth Concert. Director Guy Richie converted his 18th Century Wiltshire manor into a sustainable home, as did Orlando Bloom and Julia Roberts; Bloom’s other green credentials include supporting Global Green, while Roberts has campaigned for the use of bio-diesel on state school buses in America – perhaps inspired by her 2000 screen portrayal of eco-warrior Erin Brokovich.
In the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, actor Brad Pitt invested $5 million of his own money into an ‘adopt-an-eco-home’ project, ‘Make it Right’, which aimed to build 150 affordable, eco-friendly homes. Designed on stilts to withstand any future flooding, these homes are powered by solar panels. Donations of $150,000 allowed a homeless family to move in.
Leonardo DiCaprio has famously refused to charter private jets, reducing his carbon footprint by flying commercially. DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz are notable celebrities who drive a Toyota Prius (hybrid) car.
Thom Yorke, who has supported Friends of the Earth’s Big Ask campaign against climate change, has criticized his own energy use and the high carbon footprint of the music industry. He has even said he would consider not touring if measures were not taken forcing the situation to improve. Working with Best Foot Forward, the band aimed to reduce the environmental impact of their 2008 tour, using low-energy LED lights and encouraging the use of recyclable plastic cups at festivals. Yorke, who declined a meeting with ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss environmental issues, citing that Blair had ‘no green credentials’, attended environmental summits in 2009 by pretending to be a member of the media.
Guy Richie is regularly seen cycling around London rather than using motorised transport. Prince Charles, whose nicknames include ‘the Green Prince’ and ‘Eco-King’, having vowed to protect an area of rainforest the size of Wales from deforestation, embarked on a tour of the United Kingdom promoting environmental initiatives. Criticised for his enormous carbon footprint during these visits, the Prince revealed that the Royal train was fuelled by used cooking oil!
Celebrities Get Political
We are seeing more and more stars get vocal about environmental issues. Super-couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin support Act Green, and use chlorine-free diapers for their son Moses. Paltrow, who has penned vegetarian recipes, has also revealed ambitions to become an organic farmer, while Martin has expressed his family’s love for sewing their own clothes.
Inspired by his role in the disaster film “The Day After Tomorrow,” Jake Gyllenhaal is openly political and a supporter of both Future Forests and Go Green. Latina bombshell Penelope Cruz supports Global Green, launched the Red Carpets/Green Cars Oscars campaign, and promotes the Greenest City Challenge, where American cities compete for an environmental mantle. Boho icon Sienna Miller has worked with the Global Cool initiative against climate change.
Leonardo DiCaprio is widely regarded as a champion of the environment, setting up his own wildlife and conservation foundation in 1998. DiCaprio’s professional work reflects his eco concerns: he created, produced and narrated “The 11th Hour,” a film documentary about global warming; he is also set to produce a 13-part reality programme called Eco Town on Planet Green, following the development of an environmentally-sustainable town in Kansas.
DiCaprio has also presented the American leg of Live Earth, donated $1,000,000 towards relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, and a further $1,000,000 to the Wildlife Conservation Society. He has also campaigned with the Animal League Defence Front for the release of a tiger, Tony, who has spent over 10 years in captivity.
With these celebrities standing up for green living, we can only hope that fans will follow in their footsteps, because there are simple changes we can all make, with or without a Hollywood income. Consider installing solar panels on your roof; some companies will do this for free. Eco-tiles and other eco-flooring solutions minimize heat-loss in the home – and ensure your feet are never cold!
Capture rainwater for use in-home with outdoor tanks. And, whether or not you can bear to give up your bacon sandwiches, follow Linda McCartney’s lead at least once a week, reducing the carbon footprint involved in meat production. Although – while Toby McGuire’s vegetarian commitment is admirable – there is no need to bar your non-veggie friends from your home!