Stars are people, too. Sure, they’re talented, gorgeous, and filthy rich, but we all breathe the same exhaust fumes and fry under the same sun. We’re all globally warming together. It’s just that celebrities have more power to do something about it. To celebrate Earth Day, here are five phenomenal stars going green for the benefit of all.
Pharrell Williams – Eco-Happy Fashion
Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” music video on YouTube has been viewed 173,424,437 times. Oops—173,424,438—I just watched it again. Couldn’t help it, the song’s exuberance even got Hollywood’s elite to shimmy at the Academy Awards ceremony. A Grammy winner and famously behatted style icon voted Esquire’s 2005 “Best Dressed Man in the World,” there is no better brand ambassador for an eco-friendly fashion product than Pharrell, and he’s got one—Bionic Yarn.
In 2008, Pharrell joined Return Textiles founder and CEO Tyson Toussant in his venture to create fiber for fabrics from recycled plastic bottles. The bottles are ground into soft, high-quality material used to design clothes for companies like Timberland, the GAP, G-Star Raw, and NIKE who just made special “green week” shirts for the NBA. Toussant told Complex Magazine that Bionic Yarn pulled 1.7 million plastic bottles out of landfills to supply material for Timberland alone. Pharrell sees huge potential. “Who wouldn't want to use a fabric that is durable, feels awesome, and helps the environment?” Clap along if that makes you happy.
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Ocean Blues
What is Leonardo DiCaprio so worried about? The guy can make any movie he wants, earns $20 million a pop, and is aging really, really well. Okay, so he hasn’t won an Oscar, but we know he will and meanwhile he’s got two Golden Globes. So what could possibly make him anxious??? He told Rolling Stone, “What I honestly think about is the planet … the idea that there's going to be a mass extinction." And the ocean will be first to go, "More than any environmental situation, the oceans are the most screwed."
But you don’t play J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, and the “Wolf of Wall Street,” without learning how to fight. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, launched in 1998 to support environmental causes, raised $38 million through an auction at Christie’s last year. Their first grant was $3 million to Oceana, an advocacy group dedicated to protecting threatened ocean habitat and endangered species such as sharks. Also on the board of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Global Green USA, DiCaprio drives a hybrid and has solar panels on his house. In The 11th Hour, the 2007 documentary DiCaprio co-produced and narrated he asks, “Will our pivotal generation create a sustainable world in time?” The Titanic star is doing all he can to make sure we get out of this one alive.
Meryl Streep – Mom With a Mission
Meryl Streep knows motherhood. Hailed as “The Greatest Actress of All Time,” she won three Oscars playing moms: one who abandons her son to find herself (Kramer vs. Kramer); one who ignores her twins to run a country (Iron Lady); and one who is forced by Nazis to choose which of her children will die (Sophie’s Choice). The scene in which Sophie makes that agonizing choice was filmed in just one take. When her face distorts in a silent scream there’s no doubt that this woman knows what it is to love a child. So it’s no surprise that when Streep decided to break her own rule about keeping her private life private, it was for her kids.
Streep’s four children are now adult performers themselves, but in 1989, the youngest was still a toddler “mainlining apple juice.” And that’s what did it – the apple juice. There were reports about Alar, a growth enhancing chemical sprayed on apples that was potentially toxic, especially for kids. Nobody messes with Streep’s kids—this is a mom who once skipped an award ceremony to be at her son’s hockey game. Streep took on Alar by wielding her star power like a mighty bat, appearing on talk shows and even testifying before Congress about the chemical’s dangers. There was a public outcry and by the end of the year, the nation’s apples were Alar-free.
Streep co-founded Mothers and Others and joined the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition to raise awareness about environmental toxins. She told USA Today, "We are all activists every day that we make a purchase. We vote with our credit cards.… Americans, especially women, demonstrated that they cared what is on our food.” From the star who played Julia Child better than Julia Child, those are fighting words.
Mark Ruffalo – The Incredible Environmental Hulk
In The Kids Are All Right, Mark Ruffalo won an Oscar nomination playing a guy so sly and sexy that a lesbian (Julianne Moore) can’t resist sleeping with him. Who wouldn’t?? He’s as warm and sweet as a freshly baked Mallomar bar—unless you ask him about fracking, the controversial gas drilling process where underground rock is injected with chemical-laced water and then blasted. When it comes to hydraulic fracturing, Ruffalo is as green as his onscreen alter ego the Hulk. “This is an industry that is the dirtiest, slimiest, most arrogant, and negligent that you can imagine,” he told TV host Keith Olbermann.
Ruffalo is among fracking opponents who believe the procedure poisons drinking water and destroys the environment. In 2009, energy companies were pushing to drill in the Catskills area of New York where Ruffalo and his wife and three kids had just moved from L.A.—he didn’t want fracking in his children’s backyard. Ruffalo joined the ranks of anti-fracking celebrities like Yoko Ono, Robert Redford, Scarlett Johansson and Mario Batali, He has led rallies, lobbied legislators, enlisted celebrity pals to make anti-fracking videos, and launched waterdefense.org, a website to support the cause. As an alternative to gas, Ruffalo now promotes renewable energy solutions like solar and wind, supporting initiatives such as the “Put Solar On It” campaign to boost the number of profitable solar installations in the United States. After all, as he told Mother Jones, "A spill for a solar panel is a sunny day."
Jackie Chan, Kung Fu Treehugger
You’ve got to love your work to break your ribs, nose, fingers, cheekbones, hips, and ankles on the job and come back smiling. Inspired by Buster Keaton, Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan put the funny in kung fu blockbusters like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, earning him accolades like Favorite Buttkicker at Nickelodeon’s Kid Choice Awards. He also holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Stunts by a Living Actor,” but in 2004 he scaled the Great Wall of China for a stunt that packed an environmentally conscious punch. Along with 200 college volunteers, Chan planted trees near the wall to promote the Great Green Wall project that raises awareness of environmental protection.
Chan is also an ambassador for the U.S. charity WildAid seeking to end illegal wildlife trade, a $10 billion industry that relies on the slaughter of rhinos, elephants, sharks, and other endangered wildlife. Along with WildAid supporters such as Prince William, Li Bingbing, David Beckham, and Edward Norton, Chan believes what his ad says, “When the buying stops, so does the killing.” He told The Guardian, "Everybody knows we need to do the right thing. [In China] with 1.4 billion people, if everyone had a piece of ivory … we must stop. …Humans have already destroyed the Earth enough." That’s our Favorite Buttkicker talking, listen up.