10 Celebrities Attempting to Make a Real Environmental Difference

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Cinematic nominated 10 Movie Characters Who Can Stop the Oil Spill, including Spongebob, Mulder and Scully, Superman, and There Will Be Blood’s self-proclaimed “oil man,” Daniel Plainview. This fictional cast may not have what it actually takes to handle BP’s snafu in 2010, however, there are a number of actors and musicians who are already using their celebrity to bring public attention to a variety of environmental issues. We’ve assembled our top 10 for you.

10. Cameron Diaz

As an actress, Diaz is all too familiar with motivation – where her characters are coming from. But recognizing “the planet needs a publicist,” she also wants others to know where their resources are coming from. Diaz has devoted substantial screen time to environmental causes, appearing in MTV’s Trippin’, the YouTube clip “Cameron Diaz Saves the World” and even on “Sesame Street.”

In the News: Dubbed one of the Heroes of the Environment by TIME in 2009, Diaz collaborated on Christie’s Green Auction: A Bid to Save the Earth last spring.

9. Sting

Having personally witnessed the devastation of Amazon rainforests and come to recognize their destruction’s global ramifications, Sting and his wife Trudie Styler founded The Rainforest Foundation in 1989. The singer has remained the face of rainforest preservation in the decades since, and has also given climate change awareness a stronger voice through his advocacy.

In the news: During a recent Earth Day, Sting, John Legend, and the Roots headlined the Climate Rally, a music and speaking event in the National Mall in Washington, D.C., determined to help “enact comprehensive climate legislation.”

8. Bette Midler

With an eye for the urban environment, Midler founded the New York Restoration Project, an organization devoted to improving New York City’s existing gardens as well as developing new ones. The entertainer has collaborated with numerous groups and public figures (from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to rapper 50 Cent) to bring her vision of cleaner, greener boroughs to life.

In the News: In celebration NYRP’s 15th anniversary, Midler hosted the ninth annual Spring Picnic Gala and online auction, both of which benefited the organization’s efforts.

7. Daryl Hannah

The actress gained considerable publicity after she and a dozen others were arrested for trespassing – in a tree – while protesting an urban garden’s planned demolition. However, the headlines merely scratched the surface of Hannah’s activism. DHLoveLife, the video blog on sustainability that she taped during the sit-in, ran before (and has run since).  Hannah has also written about her causes for news outlets.

In the news: Last year, Hannah accepted an invitation from Ric O’Barry, the activist featured in the documentary The Cove, to join a dolphin killings protest in Japan.

6. Sheryl Crow

Green Music Group co-founder Crow credits her childhood for her long history of inspiring action on behalf of the environment. “I was raised with this idea that you leave the campground better than how you found it,” the singer has said, adding, “I have a little boy now, so my concern is what kind of planet [we are]leaving.”

In the News: Years after her Stop Global Warming College Tour with An Inconvenient Truth producer Laurie David, Crow continues to promote that title cause, encouraging fans to carpool to concerts.

5. Don Cheadle

As a driving force in the campaign to end the crisis in Darfur, Cheadle is perhaps best known for his humanitarian efforts. But the actor is also a major player in exacting political change toward environmental issues, collaborating with the UN to advocate policy reform at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference.

In the News: Named the UN Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador on World Environment Day, Cheadle noted the need to educate about mankind’s interconnectivity with the environment: “It really is a chain of life. We have to connect the dots.”

4. Brad Pitt

After Hurricane Katrina, Pitt’s interests in architecture and sustainability converged: in support of rebuilding efforts, he joined Global Green USA and helped select new housing models for its Sustainable Design Competition for New Orleans Neighborhoods. The actor also formed the affordable housing initiative Make It Right and, as a major vote of confidence, relocated his family to New Orleans.

In the news: Pitt helped found the Green Products Innovation Institute, the Google-, Wal-Mart-, and YouTube-backed non-profit that looks to reform the cleaning product industry.

3. Edward Norton

A belief that environmental issues will prove to be the defining crisis for his generation fuels the actor’s activism. Norton’s efforts include helping kick-start the BP Solar Neighbors program and the Enterprise Green Communities initiative, as well as hosting National Geographic’s “Strange Days on Planet Earth” series.

In the news: Norton recently launched Crowdrise, an online fundraising site that he calls “pretty much the most fun you can have making a difference without taking any illegal substances.”

2. Leonardo DiCaprio

Already a prolific movie star, DiCaprio has also been a proponent of green causes throughout his film career. In addition to practicing what he preaches, the actor also had a major hand in bringing An Inconvenient Truth’s spiritual successor, The 11th hour,to theaters, spearheaded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and has devoted much of his official website to raising environmental awareness.

In the news: DiCaprio recently teamed with the World Wildlife Fund to form the Save Tigers Now campaign, dedicated to preserving habitats and doubling the number of wild tigers “by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.

1. Robert Redford

According to Redford, “the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?” With this in mind, the actor has spent over three decades championing the environmental movement through his own personal advocacy, his involvement with the National Resources Defense Council, and through the sustainability-minded Sundance Channel.

In the news: In response to the Deepwater Horizon crisis, Redford and the NRDC posted a video in which he said that, “if there’s a lesson in all of this, it’s that we have to get off of our dependence on oil.”

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8 Comments

  1. murari lal vishwakarma on

    Total universe life is depend on the environment . If we have not save it then we have been not safe in this world . So its a duty of every person to prevent the polluted element in the environment .

  2. Christian willis on

    what about, tim mcilrath, zach de la rocha? This list should be called 10 most popular celebrities Attempting to Make a Real Environmental Difference.

  3. The person that I thought deserving of this list was Kevin Costner. He took his own money to develop a ship to clean oil from sea water and sent it to the gulf during the oil spill disaster. He deserves credit.

  4. I didn’t know Cameron Diaz was an environmentalist. Nice to know. This was a fun list to read, since I’m an environmentalist myself. I’m vegetarian, I always take the bus, I only turn on the lights when I need to, and so on.

  5. God bless ’em. We need people with money to help for these causes. If only the majority of the superwealthy did as much.

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