E’s Top 10 Eco Celebs

The massive shift toward environmental consciousness has definitely landed in Hollywood. Myrlia Purcell of celebrity-philanthropy blog www.looktothestars.org, says, “There is definitely a “greening” trend in Hollywood, which seems to be in part because it is fashionable, but also becausegreen lifestyle options are becoming more available. Celebrities and programs such as “Real World: Hollywood” are helping people to feel comfortable talking about the issues.”

Some of the celebrities on this list have been working for years on a variety of earth-friendly causes; others are newly inspired. In either case, they made E’s list because their environmental commitment is more than just a publicity stunt.

1) Ed Begley Jr., long known for his commitment to low-impact living, has spawned the reality television show “Living with Ed” on HGTV. It chronicles Ed and his wife Rachelle Carson as they give friends and other celebrities “green audits’ and cope with the challenges of green living.

2) Leonardo DiCaprio narrated and co-produced The 11th Hour, a documentary released in August 2007 assessing the current environmental situation and what should be done to improve it. DiCaprio says of the climate crisis, “During this critical period of human history, healing the damage of industrial civilization is the task of our generation.”

3) Jackie Chan has recorded a public service announcement for Wildaid, an organization that works to end the endangered species trade. Chan also brought water purification equipment to Hong Kong in April and, in 2004, led volunteers in building a “Green Great Wall” in China, planting trees near the Great Wall in Beijing. He’s been appointed an Environmental Culture Ambassador by the Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration.

4) Twenty years ago, Harrison Ford bought 800 acres in Jackson, Wyoming. Ford has since donated half of his Wyoming spread as a conservation easement to the Jackson Hole Land Trust, a nonprofit that restricts development on over 20,000 acres in order to protect wildlife and open space. Since 1991, he has been a vice-chair of Conservation International’s Board of Directors.

5) Ted Danson founded the American Oceans Campaign in 1987 to raise awareness of the oceans’ declining health. In a 1998 interview with E, Danson said, “Everything has an impact on the ocean. It’s like a mirror, reflecting the health of the planet.” In 2001 the AOC merged with Oceana, an organization that “seeks to make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they were in our grandparents’ youth” through restoring the oceans’ ecosystems.

6) Dominic Monaghan, touched by reports of deforestation, became a spokesperson for Project Last Stand. The group is a project of The Elephant Head Group, a “nonprofit dedicated to remembering our connectedness to each other and the natural world.”

7) A vegetarian since childhood and off the grid for over 10 years, Daryl Hannah is no stranger to conservation in her personal life. Recently Hannah, along with Willie Nelson, created the Sustainable Biofuels Alliance to address the economic repercussions of biofuel-crop production. Biodiesel is only one of the myriad topics addressed in Hannah’s webTV show, dhlovelife, which focuses on topics like vegan junk food, bicycle culture and worm poop.

8) At age 24, Robert Redford spent his last $500 on two acres of land in Utah. Redford’s love for the environment led him to create the Sundance Resort and Institute in Utah, where he formed the Redford Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve on 860 acres. He fought for 20 years to protect the 1.7-million acres of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah from development and succeeded when President Clinton closed it to development in 1996. Now “The Green” on the Sundance channel is dedicated to environmental programming.

9) Carole King has lived in Idaho for over 30 years and has worked to protect its open space for the past 18. She works with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, lobbying for the passage of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). The proposed bill would protect over 20 million acres in Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington from development, logging and mining.

10) Maggie Gyllenhaal was a judge for the Climate Matters Video Contest this past fall. Contestants uploaded a 30- to 60-second video with their ideas on climate change action. The 10 winning videos were shown to Congress and both presidential campaigns.