ByRyan Callahan

May 31, 2014

Many celebrities pay lip service to giving back and helping the Earth, but these dedicated women actually pull up their sleeves and get to work.

In addition to her work with the One Voice Movement and Global Green USA, Natalie Portman has taken a personal role in spreading the word about the plight of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas. She traveled to Rwanda in 2007 to host a documentary, Gorillas on the Brink, which focuses how changes to the environment have threatened the lives of these endangered animals. A vegan for years, Portman created her own line of vegan shoes to benefit the Nature Conservancy, a leading non-profit that protects the environment around the world. Like many difference-makers, Portman knows that the biggest changes start with the smallest steps. Her engagement ring is eco-friendly: the ring is recycled platinum, the center stone is antique-mine cut and the surrounding diamonds are conflict-free. And yet when I make an engagement ring out of a straw wrapper and some Gummi Bears, everyone says I ‘m just being cheap. Talk about a double standard.

Cate Blanchett has been green for years. Her home runs on solar power and she reuses rainwater. When she and her husband became co-artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company, they saw a chance to make a positive environmental impact on a larger scale. Their goal is to make the Sydney Theatre the first off-the-grid theatre in the world, running on only solar power and harvesting rainwater. They’ve already taken a large step in that direction with their Greening the Wharf project, which installed 1,900 solar panels on the Wharf Theatre in Sydney’s Walsh Bay. Blanchett is also the face of the Australian Conservation Foundation’s “Who on Earth Cares?” initiative encouraging people from all walks of life from all over the Earth to get involved in fighting the effects of climate change. I only hope Blanchett’s campaign is more successful than my “Who On Earth Wants to Give Me A Million Dollars?” initiative. Turns out, nobody.

Few people fight for the environment like Daryl Hannah. She has been on the front lines of the green movement: chaining herself to a tree in Los Angeles for over three weeks to stop the bulldozing of an urban farm, “sitting in” outside of the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and protesting mountaintop removal mining in Kentucky. Each of these protests and a few others, led to Hannah’s arrest. She is certainly not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. Hannah’s passion for the environment affects every piece of her life: her Malibu home that runs on solar power was built with green materials and she drives a bio-diesel car. Despite flying all over the world to protect the environment, she also finds time to produce, shoot and co-host a weekly web series, DHLovesLife, where she talks about sustainable solutions. Not to brag, but I’ve been wearing the same pair of jeans for two weeks. We’re all have to do our part to help the environment.

Having a baby changed the way Jessica Alba looks at the world. She was horrified to discover how many products contain toxic substances and chemicals that can hinder development. To help other new families benefit from her experience, she started The Honest Company, which produces organic, non-toxic, eco-friendly products for mothers, babies and families. A percentage of sales from The Honest Company go to help, which gives supplies to families in need. Jessica showed good sense when choosing the name for her company. The American public responds to openness and sincerity. But sometimes too much honesty can hurt you, as my father discovered when he started You Cannot Trust a Word I Say Construction.

Penelope Cruz is the driving force behind the Red Carpet/Green Cars campaign. Tired of seeing her fellow Hollywood stars pay lip service to the environment while stepping out of gas-guzzling limousines, Cruz set about changing the way Hollywood travels. Her campaign encourages celebrities to travel to red carpets in environmentally-conscious hybrid cars and sustainable fuel vehicles. George Clooney, Brad Pitt and many others have joined the campaigns, and the “green car line” at the Oscars grows larger each year. Sadly, the Academy Awards continue to ignore my requests to have all the nominees travel to and from the show in rickshaws pulled by Razzie nominees. They claim my plan is “ridiculous” and “demeaning” and have asked me to “please stop sending your letters and drawings and autographed headshots. Our trash cans are overflowing.” I guess some folks just don’ t want to help the environment.

By Ryan Callahan

Ryan Callahan is a writer, director, and sandwich enthusiast. Ryan believes that taking care of the environment is important because that’s where the animals live. Animals make the best parts of the sandwich.