The world is in some serious trouble: the ice caps are melting, the Amazon is shrinking, and species are going extinct. So now it’s up to us to save the planet we call home, a task that can feel daunting when looking at the clean-up to-do list.
Luckily, celebrities with a lot of money, time, and contacts have shown their dedication to the cause. Some use their platform to raise awareness, while others roll up their sleeves and do the hard work themselves. Whatever their ways may be, the following celebs are working hard to save the world…
1. Willie Nelson: The infamous hippie’s goal was always to improve the environment — music was just a way to raise awareness. So the 85 year old created BioWillie fuel out of soybeans, and supports small-scale farmers all over America.
2. Drew Barrymore: Not only is this comedy queen an outspoken activist for animal rights, she’s also created an eco-friendly makeup line that makes all its products in the U.S., lowering transportation impact on the environment.
3. Matt Damon: Getting in the game early, Matt Damon founded an organization called Water.org in 1990. Since then, he has provided thousands of people with clean drinking water! What an interstellar accomplishment.
4. Natalie Portman: Not only does this brainy actress have her own line of vegan shoes, but she puts in the hard work to save gorillas in Rwanda and create environmentally focused media.
5. Gisele Bundchen: Supermodel? More like superhero! She’s been a Global Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program and is adamant about protecting the Amazon rainforest.
6. Leonardo DiCaprio: Leo may be the Wolf of Wall Street, but he’s also the UN’s Messenger Of Peace on Climate Change. He saved a species of critically endangered porpoises in the Gulf of Mexico.
7. Hayden Panettiere: As an avid surfer, Hayden is intent on saving the ocean one protest at a time. She’s the spokesperson for the Whaleman Foundation and often protests dolphin killings. She must have learned a thing or two from Heroes!
8. Brad Pitt: Speaking of Hollywood hunks, Brad Pitt was not afraid to get his hands dirty by rebuilding 150 houses for victims of hurricane Katrina. And guess what? All the houses were built for green energy.
9. Rachel McAdams: Co-founder of the website “Green is Sexy,” the avid biker and actress is determined to raise awareness for all things environment. By offering fun quips and tips, she hopes to make environmental matters regular topics of conversation.
10. Neil Young: The T-shirt says it all! Neil wrote an entire album about his electric car, regularly campaigns against oil sands developments, and donated $100,000 to David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Initiative!
11. Cate Blanchett: When she isn’t planning elaborate heists with Sandra Bullock, Cate is launching rainwater harvesting systems and installing solar power roofs for places like the Sydney Theatre Company.
12. Pierce Brosnan: This former James Bond became the Environmental 007 when he campaigned against whale hunting and fought to protect wetlands. Oh, and he just happened to be named Best-Dressed Environmentalist, and we can’t disagree.
13. Mark Ruffalo: This Avengers actor started a campaign to ban hydrofracking, a controversial method of natural gas extraction. He also fights for clean drinking water, walking the walk and taking to the streets.
14. Gwyneth Paltrow: She holds the same standards at home as in her business. She raises her kids vegan, uses a natural water filtration system, and cleans her hair with non-toxic shampoos. She also promotes natural products through her company, Goop.
15. Jack Johnson: Aside from making banana pancakes, Jack Johnson is also famous for keeping the beach clean and donating 100 percent of his tour profits to environmental charities. This guy loves mother nature like no other!
16. Bono: When you think “celebrity philanthropy,” Bono should always come to mind. The U2 singer fights against AIDS and poverty, and for fair trade and the popularization of Greenpeace. Now that’s one love.
17. Alicia Silverstone: Something Alicia isn’t clueless about is veganism. She published two lifestyle books on plant-based diets and is often spotted buying tons of veggies at her local farmer’s market.
18. Emma Watson: She’s a feminist, an ally to minorities, and a fashionista who uses her platform to promote sustainable fabrics. In fact, she used her Beauty and the Beast press tour to blog a sustainable outfit every day!
19. Woody Harrelson: Believe it or not, the former True Detective eats, sleeps, and breathes green. The raw vegan co-founded the paper company “Prairie Paper,” which specializes in producing paper made from 80 percent wheat straw fiber. Cheers to that!
20. Olivia Wilde: With her friend Barbara Burchfield, Olivia created a guide for conscious living by promoting causes, brands, and people that are forging a new paragon of living. Who doesn’t love the Wilde-life?
21. Pearl Jam: It should come as no surprise that Eddie Vedder’s band is eco-friendly. They donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to environmental causes and worked with UPS to create a greener way to ship their merch to fans.
22. Jamie Oliver: The chef who sets a healthy example for kids sure knows how to lead by example. Jamie only eats meat 4 days a week and promotes growing one’s own food, while powering all his restaurants by wind turbines. How does that taste?
23. Adele: It’s hard not to care about the environment when you’re married to the CEO of Drop4Drop and Life Water, charity organizations that aim to provide sustainable, clean water globally. Hot tip: don’t set fire to the rain.
24. Ian Somerhalder: This lost little vampire started the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which distributes funds and resources towards global environmental conservation, green energy development, deployment, and educational tools.
25. Pharrell: In 2009, Pharrell Williams became the creative director of Bionic Yarn, which takes old, used plastic and turns it into yarn to make clothing. The yarn is then used by companies like GAP and Topshop!
26. LeBron James: Not all good causes need to be environmental. This basketball legend has donated millions toward improving living and education standards for the people of Akron, Ohio, his hometown.
But what is perhaps James’ most significant act of giving is the creation of his I Promise School. After learning of Akron’s high school dropout rate, James created the IPS to provide a stable education for at-risk children.
Lake Show Life
27. Serena Williams: Like James, Williams has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in youth scholarships, but she’s even worked to build schools in underprivileged nations like Jamaica and Kenya.
Not only that, but Williams is also active in violence prevention. Her Serena Williams Fund is dedicated to assisting families and communities affected by senseless violence.
Hip and Healthy
28. J.J. Watt: While he’s definitely not the type of guy you’d want to cross on the football field, as president and founder of the Justin J. Watt Foundation, the football star has raised over $1 million toward helping children get involved in athletics within a safe environment.
Watt’s giving doesn’t stop there, as in 2017, he was a major part of Houston’s Hurricane Harvey recovery effort. Through crowdfunding and his own personal donations, Watt raised almost $40 million for the city and was subsequently named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
29. Maria Sharapova: Tennis and charity seem to go hand in hand, as, like Williams, Sharapova is also actively engaged in helping those in need. Through her Maria Sharapova Foundation, the legendary Russian tennis player has donated over $500k to communities affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
Sharapova is also heavily involved in global disaster recovery and tragedy relief efforts as well. The tennis star donated $50k to those affected by the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004 and even aided fellow competitor Monica Puig in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
30. Russell Wilson: The star quarterback holds dozens of charity events in and around Seattle, and in 2016, his Wilson’s Why Not You Foundation raised $1.06 million for the Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Strong Against Cancer initiative.
While Wilson’s charitable contributions are no doubt impressive, the personal relationships he’s forged through his philanthropy are just as valuable. When he isn’t training or prepping for game day, Wilson makes weekly visits to Seattle Children’s to spend time with sick fans.
31. Kristi Yamaguchi: A shift from figure skating to charity work may not seem like a natural transition, but the 1992 Olympic champion has taken to her new passion in stride. Yamaguchi works to provide literacy programs to underserved children nationwide.
Yamaguchi has also expanded into the world of fashion through her active lifestyle brand, Tsuya. The clothing line is designed to empower women to look and feel their best, and a portion of the proceeds from Tsuya sales are donated to her youth literacy efforts.
32. John Cena: The WWE legend is one of the most charitable athletes out there, having granted the most wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation with 500… and counting!
Even in the ring, Cena has been an ambassador for numerous charities. From late 2011 to early 2012, Cena sported a “Rise Above Hate” shirt to promote the “Be a Star” anti-bullying campaign, and during his October appearances, he wore pink in support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
33. Mia Hamm: For a woman that’s done it all both in and out of the sports world, Mia Hamm’s charitable pursuits are no less impressive. As the founder of the Mia Hamm Foundation, the soccer legend strives to empower and create athletic opportunities for young women.
Mia Hamm Foundation
Since her brother’s death from aplastic anemia in 1997, Hamm has also been an advocate for the demand for bone marrow and cord blood transplants in the U.S. Through her foundation, Hamm encourages enrollment in the national bone marrow registry.
34. Eli Manning: He’s won two Super Bowls and raised millions for causes like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Operation Smile, and the Wounded Warrior Project. Surprisingly, however, the future Hall of Famer’s mission of giving extends far beyond the borders of New York and New Jersey.
In 2007, Manning donated $2.5 million to the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, Mississippi to create The Eli Manning Children’s Clinics. The quarterback is also heavily involved in his hometown of New Orleans, having assisted in the delivery of 30,000 pounds of relief supplies following Hurricane Katrina.
35. Colin Kaepernick: There’s no denying the good that Kaepernick has done since taking a stand against injustice in 2016. The former NFL star pledged to donate $1 million to “organizations working in oppressed communities” and has since encouraged other celebrities to do the same.
The Grueling Truth
Kaepernick’s philanthropic efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, and since 2016 he has received numerous accolades. In 2017, Kaepernick was named GQ‘s “Citizen of the Year” and honored with Sports Illustrated‘s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. In 2018, he was given the Ambassador of Conscience Award and the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal.