Thirteen TV and Film Stars Who Advocate for the Environment
We know their names and their faces - which is why they use their voices to advocate for the environment. Public figures from small and big screens, the runway, and politics alike continue to call for action, lending their celebrity - and maybe some of their wealth - to environmental causes. Here’s a non exhaustive list of some noteworthy celebrities doing their part for the planet.
Actress Daryl Hannah is anything but shy about her environmentalism. The activist has received recognition for her efforts on behalf of the planet, receiving an Environmental Hero Award in 2011. Hannah has been a vegetarian since she was 7 years old and drives a car fueled by biofuel. Hannah and her musician husband, Neil Young, have been active in protesting the Keystone XL pipeline as well.
In addition to living a plant-based lifestyle, actress Kristen Bell promotes eco-friendly living by partnering with entities like Tide and the World WIldlife Fund, as well as Neutrogena and The Nature Conservancy. She’s also a celebrity face for the Recycling Across America program.
Actor Mark Ruffalo has emerged as a strong voice against fracking, reportedly earning a spot on the Homeland Security Watch List as a result. In 2016, he narrated a documentary on President Obama’s environmental policies and impact called Dear President Obama: The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now.
Ruffalo has also protested against the Dakota Access Pipeline alongside fellow celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Chance the Rapper.
In 2009, entrepreneur Whitney Williams and actor Ben Affleck founded the East Congo Initiative (ECI) to advocate for and provide financial assistance to community-based organizations in the region. ECI partners with legal groups, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities in East Congo, while offering supporting sustainable farming and helping the coffee industry thrive.
Affleck has appeared before numerous Congressional commissions to testify about the humanitarian crisis in the Congo but remains hopeful. For Affleck, the group helps the Congolese people work hard for themselves, closing, “the gap between poverty and prosperity, chaos and stability. It’s a journey toward progress, and it’s only just beginning.”
Affleck also serves on the Entertainment Council of national food bank work nonprofit, Feed America.
Ted Danson has been an environmental activist for decades, notably advocating for the health of the planet’s oceans during the 1980s. He currently serves on the board of directors of Oceana, a group dedicated to the cause.
Danson has also been vocal in his concerns about climate change, arrested as recently as October 2019 during a climate change protest in Washington, D.C.
Robert Redford has been fighting for the environment since the 1970s, saving large swaths of land in Utah from the hands of commercial developers. He donates his time, his money, and his climate causes in the United States and internationally because, in his words, “climate change is in everybody’s backyard.”
The Robert Redford Center, chaired by Redford and his son, James, funds and produces short- and feature-films alike about individuals working hard for the planet. One short film in 2015 even focused on the elder Redford, detailing his environmental legacy.
Co-founder of Water.org, Matt Damon is dedicated to providing much-needed clean water to the millions of people around the globe. Water.org finances water providers, offers technical assistance, and works with individuals and groups to establish and implement best practices for water sanitation.
Damon has lent his face and his acting chops to Feeding America, appearing in one of their public service announcements in 2010. He sits on the Entertainment Council of Feed America alongside friend and former costar, Ben Affleck.
In his acceptance speech for Best Oscar at the Academy Awards, Joaquin Phoenix voiced his compassion for all living creatures - acknowledging his own flawed humanity in the process. As an animal rights activist, Phoenix is not shy about his abhorrence of factory farming or his dedication to bringing awareness to the treatment of animals.
Among his numerous contributions to the climate change cause, Phoenix has recently produced a documentary, “The Animal People,” about animal rights. He was arrested alongside fellow actor-activists Jane Fonda and Martin Sheen at a climate change protest in January 2020, and was PETA’s Person of the Year in 2019.
Considered one of the most ardent environmentalists in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio set up a foundation in his name in 1998 to promote environmental awareness. He’s produced several documentaries about climate change, won numerous awards for his efforts and even spoke with Pope Francis about environmental issues in 2016.
DiCaprio lives his message, with an eco-friendly home and vehicles alike. He’s protested the Dakota Access Pipeline, participated in the People’s Climate Change March in 2017, and his foundation has donated large sums of money to climate change efforts around the world.
Actress and director Olivia Wilde works with Conscious Commerce, a body she co-founded with Barbara Burchfield, to unite nonprofit foundations with sustainable business models. Wilde served as a spokesperson for retailer H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection, dedicated to living and promoting ethical sourcing, shopping, and conscious consumption.
Active in practice and politics alike, Cate Blanchette helped develop a more sustainable Wharf in her native Sydney, Australia, pushing to install solar panels and a rainwater collection system. She’s lent her face to a campaign for a carbon tax in Australia in 2011, telling voters it was “finally” time to take action against climate change.
In 2010, Ian Somerhalder founded the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF) to help people, “come together and raise funds to support projects that protect our habitat and nurture our furry friends.”
The environmentalist and animal activist has spoken out against factory farming, supports green living and water conservation initiatives, and helps organize ISF Cleanups to encourage reducing plastic use, recycling, and a general reduction of litter.
From October 2019 to January 2020, Jane Fonda participated in “Fire Drill Fridays” - protesting outside Capitol Hill to demand political action to combat climate change. She was arrested several times for her efforts alongside fellow actors and actresses Ted Danson, Catherine Keener, Rosanna Arquette, and Sam Waterston.
In a move to cut her own consumption, Fonda vowed in November 2019 to never buy another piece of clothing. She was true to her word, Fonda re-wore a gown from her 2014 appearance at the Cannes Film Festival to the 2020 Academy Award ceremony. While on stage, she carried a red coat - the “last article of clothing” she ever plans to buy.