Mandatory Climate Changers: 10 Celebrities That Are Actually Doing Something About Global Warming
It’s easy to talk about climate change. It takes no effort at all to say how bad it’s gotten, how screwed the human race is, and what a mess we’ve made of our collective home otherwise known as Earth. Actually taking action about climate change is challenging, especially when many of us feel like the most we can do is reduce, reuse, and recycle. (Someday, we dream of being able to afford a Tesla.)
While any effort made towards reversing or decreasing the damage we wreak on the planet is better than nothing, we’re lucky that some celebrities out there are using their fame and funds to make major efforts to save the planet.
In honor of Earth Day, we’ve rounded up 10 celebrities who are true climate changers. Support their causes and follow in their footsteps and we may live to see another day!
Cover Photo: Jemal Countess / Stringer (Getty Images)
The Bourne Identity actor founded H20 Africa Foundation in 2006. That organization eventually merged with Water Partners to create water.org, which helps people around the world access clean water. “Access to water is access to education, access to work, access above all to the kind of future we want for our own families and all the members of our human family," Damon wrote on the organization’s website.
The Academy Award-winning actor has put his money where his mouth is when it comes to climate change. In 1998, he founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which, according to its website, is “dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants. Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities.” It has awarded $100 million in grants, funded over 200 projects, and supported 132 organizations that work on wildlife, marine life, and climate change initiatives, among many other objectives.
The prolific actor took time out of his busy career to become a UN Environment Programme Global Goodwill Ambassador. “I hope to use my ‘celebrity’ to motivate people and contribute to moving our global society back from the brink,” he writes on his UN page. “I am surprised environment is not at the top of the agenda. What is more important than food and clean air? We need a big push.”
For the TV show mogul’s 60th birthday, her wife Portia de Rossi created the Ellen Fund, which helps to save Rwandan mountain gorillas. If that doesn’t sound climate-changed related to you, let De Rossi explain: "People may not realize that gorillas actually help save our planet every day,” she told People magazine in 2020. “Just by existing, they help maintain the second-largest forest on earth, which keeps the air clean and helps fight climate change."
You’re never too old to take a stand. Just look at Jane Fonda, the 83-year-old actor who, before the pandemic hit, was organizing "Fire Drill Fridays," a weekly rally in Washington D.C. to raise awareness about, and demand action on, climate change. "It's clear that our behavior—individually and collectively—is not, as we once thought, impossible to change,” she wrote in a 2020 essay for People magazine. “We can take drastic steps to protect our planet like we have for our health. In fact, our health depends on the planet's health."
At only 10 years old, the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, conceived of Just Water, a sustainably-sourced H20 company that uses plant-derived cartons that are 100 percent recyclable. “I saw what happens when plastic goes to waste in our environment and how it affects us,” he said. “I needed to do something and make a difference. So, we’re trying to eliminate as much plastic as possible. I want to make it easier [for people] to be part of the solution.” Just Water has also partnered with the struggling community of Glens Falls, New York, to revitalize it and create water-based revenue.
Julia Louis-DreyfusThe Veep star first got involved on environmental issues with Heal the Bay, a nonprofit determined to protect California's coastline and waterway. She has since joined the Board of Trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is tackling the issue of fossil fuel pollution, one of the main causes of climate change. "It sort of speaks to activism in general," she has said of her own trajectory in getting involved. "If you can begin locally in your own backyard, you'll find a connection to a global effort."
The legendary actor and director joined forces with his son, James Redford, to establish The Redford Center in 2005. Together, the father-son team uses what they know – film – to inform and fire up the public about environmental issues. “By leveraging the power of storytelling, we seek to engage and activate significantly more people—and a far more diverse and representative population of people—to join the environmental movement,” the organization’s website states.
Rosario DawsonIn 2019, the acclaimed actor used her cinematic skills to executive produce and narrate the documentary The Need to GROW, which shows viewers how crucial preserving the Earth’s topsoil is. "To say that we care about the future of this planet, to say that we care about the survival of our species, and not take action, is simply no longer an option," she said in the film.
The Golden Globe award-winning actor teamed up with The Solutions Project several years ago in pursuit of 100 percent renewable energy all over the world by 2050. "We are in a race against climate change," Ruffalo wrote in a grist.org essay. "If we don’t make dramatic changes — soon — it won’t matter what political faction we align ourselves with or how much wealth we amass. We need more grassroots activism and a commitment to live our American values. We don’t need a superhero, but maybe we do need more people to get angry and turn that into action."
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