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Eco idols

Meet the greenest stars on the celebrity circuit and see how they are healing the world

We may consider them to be gas-guzzling, energy-zapping beings that have an excess of everything, but believe it or not, some celebrities do care deeply about the environment and the harmful impact we have on it.

From the likes of Janet Street-Porter to Brad Pitt, our stars in shining armour are paving the way for a greener, cleaner planet for the generations to come. From multi-million pound ‘green home makeovers’to raising awareness of eco campaigns and publicly backing ethical goods, a batch of Hollywood actors, tv personalities and singers are showing us lip-service alone isn’t enough to heal the world. What’s needed is action – and we need to change our ways now.

We take a look at leading names and find out how they’re doing their bit for a cause that needs urgent global attention…

Orlando Bloom: A keen member of Global Green, Orlando has travelled to the Antartic to study the effects of global warming. ‘The boat was an old Norwegian ice breaker and is now used for scientific research. I slept in a bunk and did the washing up and shared a toilet and a shower with 27 other guys. It was an amazing experience,’ he said. Orlando also has a ‘green’ home in London – ‘it’s powered by all the latest technology and I’ve tried to think about recycling – using as much old material as I can,’ he says.

Jake Gyllenhaal: He’s travelled to the North Pole with Salma Hayek in the effort to raise awareness about climate change, and is an active supporter of the Future Forests programme and Global Green. To offset his carbon output, Jake has paid for trees to be planted in Mozambique.

Leonardo DiCaprio: Known as one of the leaders of the celebrity eco-movement, Leo has recently purchased a state-of-the-art ‘green’ flat in a New York City complex, complete with locally acquired renewable materials, partly powered by solar energy and green rooftops planted with pine trees. He also played a large part in an environmental documentary about global warming, The 11th Hour, as well as the television series Eco-Town. ‘I remember watching documentaries about mass extinctions of species in rainforests, and I said to myself, When I grow up, I’d love to make a difference

He’s since established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which helps to raise awareness of environmental and eco issues.


Brad Pitt: At the end of 2006, superstar Brad Pitt started a ‘green’ project called Make It Right, which is helping to build eco-homes for the victims whose homes and lives collapsed as a result of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The ongoing project aims to build 150 affordable eco-homes and Brad hopes that this project will be a catalyst for recovery and redevelopment throughout the Lower 9th Ward area and across the city of New Orleans.

Julia Roberts: She reportedly spent £15million on a ‘green’ makeover of her Malibu home, which features wood harvested from sustainable forests, recycled bathroom tiles, solar panels and other energy conservation features. She even chooses eco-friendly nappies for her little ones, they’re chlorine-free, non-toxic nappies made of a reusable cover and flushable lining. And her husband bought her a biodiesel car that runs on alternative fuel.

Daryl Hannah: A vegetarian since childhood, Daryl has always had a passion for all things green and she devotes her time to campaigning for her vision of a carbon-neutral world. She lives in a solar-powered home and often blogs about her lifestyle on her website www.dhlovelife.com ‘My rule of thumb: Less is more, live beautifully but simply and reject disposable items. Shop less, grow more and spread love!

Colin Firth: With three eco-friendly ventures in London (two ethical cafes and one shop called Eco that stocks Fairtrade and ethical goods), Colin is also conscious of his carbon footprint. ‘When you start to think about global warming, Western over-consumption, our energy wastage, it makes you want to improve the negative effects of your complicity in it,’ he says.

Edward Norton: The actor who shuns celebrity is a real activist. While fitting solar panels in his own home, Edward hit upon the idea of supporting others and convinced BP Solar to offer free solar power to low-income families across LA, each time a celebrity invests in a system. ‘I think the car we drive is the most fundamental choice,’explains Edward. ‘I don’t own a car, but when I need one, I use car agencies that rent hybrids.’

Sting and Trudie: Long-time environmental activists, Sting and his wife Trudie Styles founded the Rainforest Foundation in 1989, in response to the rapid destruction of the world’s rainforests and abuse of indigenous peoples. The foundation originally focused on protecting the environment of the Kaypo Indians in Brazilian Amazonia but has since expanded globally. Each year Sting holds a benefit in aid of the foundation in New York’s Carnegie Hall, and performances from stars such as Elton John, Billy Joel and James Taylor have helped raise millions of pounds.

Cate Blanchett: Oscar-nominated Cate and her family live in a home entirely powered by the sun. Plus she and husband Andrew Upton have plans to make the Sydney Theatre Company, of which they’re both currently artistic directors, eco-friendly, too. What’s more, Cate and her two young sons took part in the Walk Against Warming protest alongside 40,000 others. ‘I care about climate change because of our children,’ Cate explains. ‘I want to safeguard their future. It is a situation that affects each and every one of us. It is an inescapable problem. A common link we share. It is a crisis that provides us with an opportunity to change for the better. To change the way we consume, the way we think and the way we behave. By assuming responsibility we protect, and respect the generations behind us.’

Stella McCartney: A dedicated vegetarian, Stella’s business is carbon neutral and eco-chic – her studio is powered by Ecotricity, her capsule organic collection is ethical and sustainable, plus she sells 100% biodegradable bags made of corn. ‘I recycle, I use as many organic products as possible and I drive a Lexus hybrid car,’ she says. Stella has also produced an organic skincare collection called CARE that contains no nasties.

Robert Redford: Hollywood legend Robert has been a committed environmentalist for 30 years. His campaigning has seen him tackle everything from producing documentaries about solar power to lobbying congress. ‘The environment should be put in the category of our national security,’ he argues. ‘Defence of our resources is just as vital as defence abroad.’

Janet Street Porter: Ubiquitous media personality Janet has been an advocate of doing your bit for the environment for years. She’s written countless articles on the subject and practises what she preaches. ‘I grow my own vegetables and recycle cans, bottles and newspapers. I only shop at supermarkets, to buy cleaning products and wine. And I wash everything from my smalls to cutlery in eco-products.’

Hugh Fearnley – Wittingstall: Despite an avid interest in food and cookery as a child, celebrity chef Hugh actually began his working life with conservation work in Africa. And he’s carried this interest in the environment into his current profession. Hugh’s ‘Chicken Out’ campaign has been enormously successful in encouraging awareness of food production and also the importance of buying, selling and eating only free-range chicken. ‘It’s an issue where anyone in the business of selling chicken has to take a stand,’ explains Hugh. ‘I know chefs at the very high-end sector who are not using free-range birds. Some of them are even on the road to Michelin stars.’

 


Written By Charlotte Maugham & Carly Rigley
photographs: shutterstock, pa photos
First Published in At Home with Rob Holdway, November 2008

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