Despite the countless perks to being a celebrity, being in the public eye means constantly falling victim to scrutiny. Though many celebrities do their bit to help the environment, take actress Emma Thompson speaking at London’s ‘Extinction Rebellion protests’ for example, they are also susceptible to the probing eye of the tabloids. UK newspapers branded Thompson a “hypocrite” for taking a 5,400 mile flight from LA to London to join the climate activists.
Certainly, some celebrities do not use their platforms for environmental change at all, but many are making a commendable effort - we salute you!
Here’s our round-up of female celebrities we admire, making a conscious effort to support ecological causes:
The multi-talented actress, producer, director, and activist, Olivia Wilde, has a fierce sense of humour and an even fiercer attitude towards environmentalism. She co-founded her business, Conscious Commerce, in 2013, with an aim to “connect non-profit foundations to sustainable business models.” Her team have since worked with a wealth of brands, such as Maiyet, H&M, Alternative Apparel, Anthropologie, Birchbox, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Girlgaze and Global Citizen Festival to go greener and incorporate sustainability into their trade and manufacturing. Then, by launching “Choose Used” in April of this year, Wilde made a bold statement about reclaimed clothing. She states,
“Collaboration is all about celebrating and de-stigmatizing used clothing to cut the waste and create a more sustainable fashion future”.
Each piece of vintage clothing she chose was re-imagined through ‘restitching and redesign’, saving countless garments from a hopeless existence in landfill. Wilde helps young people to recognise that each unwanted item, we have bought over the years, goes into landfill, wasting the materials and the natural resources exhausted to create them. To be more exact, 700 gallons of water for every T-shirt sent to the landfill, or 1,800 gallons of water for each pair of jeans. So, we commend Olivia Wilde for spreading awareness through her various eco initiatives and using her platform so positively.
As Global goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme, the native Brazilian model has used her huge platform as a supermodel to make a difference in her home country. She has initiated projects like the Clean Water Project (Projeto Água Limpa) alongside her father, to restore vegetation in Brazil and ensure sustainable agricultural practises are adopted. Gisele Bündchen also leaves a green footprint through her eco flip-flop brand, Ipanema, which raises money for the conservation of the Amazonian rainforest.
Growing up, the supermodel saw the destruction of forests and its effects on surrounding communities in Brazil. She was always inspired by nature and is now a motivating advocate of many social-environmental causes as a direct result of her childhood and what the planet means to her. Equally, she completely dispels the ‘airhead’ model stereotype often associated with Victoria Secret Models, and for this we congratulate her.
Using her unique status as a world famous actress to incite change, Emma Watson is a staunch advocate for social and environmental progression. Not only is she women’s rights activist and ambassador for girls’ education, Watson has equally made it her mission to inform people about the impact fashion is having on the environment.
In 2009, she paired with the ethical fashion label People Tree, producing fair trade clothes in the collaboration. The clothes were hand-made by disadvantaged groups in lesser economically developed countries and could be traced back directly to their sources. Then in 2011, she collaborated with renowned Italian designer Alberta Feretti on a eco-friendly capsule collection. More recently, Emma Watson launched @the_press_tour on Instagram, sharing all the eco-conscious brands she’d worn on the Beauty and the Beast press tour and describing how they were made.
Vowing only to wear sustainably made couture on the red carpet, the star stated that she was happy to work with any brand as long as they were environmentally conscious.
Borne out of a frustration to find personal and child skincare free from toxic chemicals, and a feeling of distrust towards the cosmetic industry, Jessica Alba joined forces with Christopher Gavigan to to create Honest Co.. Alba has been vocal about her views on skincare and beauty and the lack of transparency thereof, and is now the proud founder of her company, which is hugely successful. Her sustainable credentials could not be more legitimate, as her business partner Christopher Gavigan is both an environmental scientist and former CEO of HCHW.
Honest Co. sells ethically sourced, organic products and information surrounding product ingredients is open and trustworthy. Using her fame to promote ethical, eco-friendly skincare is a great use of her time if you ask us.
One of our younger sustainable celebs, the actress Shailene Woodley, is a self-professed hippy, herbalist and clean eater. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ actress sits at the more extreme end of the eco-friendly lifestyle trend, by collecting spring water each month, foraging, and even creating her own beauty products made from raw natural materials. Woodley is known to produce her own beetroot lipstick, thus, a few steps further than the most dedicated celebrity eco-warriors.
Shailene Woodley was commended by the Environmental Media Association for activism at the Dakota Access Pipeline, where she was arrested for protesting for clean water. So far she is making impactful ecological decisions at the young age of 27 - we can already see there’s much more to come for the actress.
The striking model is a firm believer in the devastating global impact of mass consumerism, viewing capitalism as responsible. Lily Cole is a notable supporter of Climate Week and EJF. As part of the EJF, Cole visited India and traced the production process of a cotton organic T-shirt from start to finish. The shirt was consequently sold in UK supermarket Tesco for £10, in honour of Climate Week for the “No Place Like Home” campaign, to help climate refugees. Describing her relationship with fashion to the Guardian newspaper she said,
“I think clothes are wonderful, and I’m very materialistic myself—but there’s a way of finding a compromise. I just think we can buy less and pay more, to make sure people aren’t being exploited. Am I making sense?”
In acknowledgement of the damaging consequences of fast-fashion, Cole co-founded The North Circular, an ethical knitwear company which hires local elderly women and uses the wool of rescued sheep to produce clothes. Unlike many in the limelight, Lily Cole confesses to her carbon footprint, telling the Guardian "I'm a hypocrite. I'm not perfect – and I admit it. And I feel guilty about that ”. She’s only human!
From the outset, Stella McCartney’s fashion empire has used cruelty-free, environmentally conscious materials. McCartney is constantly innovating, with different methods and materials that reduce the harmful footprint of her brand. Her studios, offices and stores both in the UK and abroad operate on renewable wind technology, and she creates fashion that lasts. The luxury designer has worked with big brands such as Adidas, in order to spread and inspire her conscious design ethos.
As a part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Stella McCartney’s label has put some real environmental standards in place. The brand uses upcycled materials, regenerated cashmere and organic cotton for example. By 2020, she has vowed to reduce carbon emissions (with updated targets) and put a no-hazardous chemicals policy in place. Though the brand is already progressive in the eco fashion market, it’s next goal is to completely eradicate the use of polyester and nylon, materials extracted from fossil fuels.
Paltrow’s lifestyle blog, Goop, stole the limelight when it came to fruition in 2008, featuring all things sustainable and eco-friendly, from beauty, travel and lifestyle to food. The actress is known for her vegan lifestyle, a diet which considerably reduces green-house gas emissions, and clean innovation when it comes to collaborations and new products.
Indeed, Paltrow launched an edible vegan beauty line in 2016 with Juice Beauty, including products for the face, lips and eyes, made from plant-based pigments. For this, she utilised natural products such as cold pressed oils, juices and fruit extracts - notably free of the synthetic ingredients used on herself throughout her career!
Where's your keep-cup Alexa?
Alexa Chung has always been an iconic promoter of vintage fashion, an eco-friendly way of recycling clothes, as well as a guaranteed money saver. The British model and socialite asked us in 2016 to “Give a Damn”, whilst donning the clothes of The Deep End Club, who aim to “work together to find creative solutions to the world’s problems”. Nowadays she’s doing collaborations with the sustainable brand Barbour, who champion long-life jackets containing upcycled materials.
However, despite being a key supporter of such brands, her own fashion label, branded after her namesake, has little transparency in regards to the environmental impact of the materials and production methods used. Here’s hoping that her recent collaboration with Barbour is the beginning of an even more sustainable journey, particularly concerning her own clothing brand.
We have only touched upon a mere handful of women using their celebrity status to put sustainability at the forefront of our minds. Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman and Miranda Kerr are amongst others making a difference. We look forward to seeing more from these empowering women and hope the trend will start to spread.
Words: Kiltie De Cleyn