How fame & fortune fashion residential solar power
Celebrities are some of the most avid proponents of alternative fuels, electric vehicles, green building products and energy-conservative lifestyles. Many celebrities will lend their voices to a nature documentary or endorse a green product, but there are those that rise above and beyond the everyday enviro-celeb. There are those that use their wealth and fame as tools to alter their lifestyles and work to convince us to alter ours.
Let’s take a look at the Coolest Eco-Friendly Celebs:
Ed Begley Jr.
Ed Begley Jr. literally epitomizes green Hollywood. Those who would list environmentally conscious celebrities as bandwagon riders would stutter at Ed Begley’s name. Here is an actor who rode his bicycle to award shows before “going green” was even a catchphrase and has been driving electric vehicles for nearly 40 years. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, Begley has dedicated himself and his family to green living practices, as many of you might have seen on his show, Living With Ed, alongside wife Rachelle Carson Begley.
Here are a few of EBJ’s earth-loving lifestyle changes:
- Self-sufficient 1,585 square foot home in southern California powered by solar panels.
- Invested in a wind turbine in the CA desert that offsets any grid energy needed by his home.
- Buys what little grid power is needed through Green L.A. program.
- Uses rain barrels to harvest rainwater.
- Rides an exercise bicycle that generates electricity for his toaster.
- Astroturfed the backyard to save water.
- FSC-certified lumber in the home.
- Founded “Begley’s Best” line of organic cleaning products.
- Vegan or vegetarian for nearly 40 years.
When looking at celebrities who have gone solar, there’s no bigger name than Edward Norton. Norton made up and manifested a partnership with BP Solar to put solar panels on low-income homes. Under the BP Solar Neighbors program, every time a celebrity or public figure purchases a residential solar power system from BP, the company donates a similar system to a low-income family in South Central Los Angeles. So far, 32 celebrities, including Ed Begley Jr., have participated in the program. Others include Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Don Cheadle, Tom Hanks, Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman, Scarlett Johansson, Alicia Silverstone and many more. Read the full list.
Ed Norton himself had solar panels installed on his home through the Solar Neighbors program. Norton is also a member of the board of trustees of the Enterprise Foundation, a nonprofit that develops affordable low-income housing.
Hollywood veteran and star of Splash, Blade Runner, Roxanne and Wall Street, Daryl Hannah is an avid environmentalist. Her exploits are certainly worthy of individual note, as they venture more into direct action than any other solar celebrity.
Daryl Hannah is yet another participant in BP’s Solar Neighbors program, currently living completely off-grid on an organic farm in the Rockies. She pilots her own video blog called DHLoveLife that deals with sustainable solutions. On June 13, 2006, Hannah was arrested for confronting authorities about the scheduled bulldozing of the nation’s largest urban farm in South Central Los Angeles. The farm was to be bulldozed so that the land’s new owner could build a warehouse. She chained herself to a walnut tree for 23 days before being forcibly removed by authorities. Then, on June 23, 2009, Hannah was arrested again in a protest against mountaintop removal, a controversial coal mining practice in West Virginia.
Brad Pitt is yet another participant of BP’s Solar Neighbors program. But like Daryl Hannah and Ed Begley Jr., Brad Pitt’s environmental dedication goes well beyond the solar panels on his roof.
Mr. Pitt found an outlet for his environmental passion on the sad, soaked and stranded streets of New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. Hardest hit was the diverse and now famous district known as the Lower Ninth Ward. In response to what Pitt saw there in the aftermath of the hurricane, he started the Make It Right Foundation (MIR), which not only aims to provide fast, affordable housing to the low-income residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, but to make that housing sustainable as well. In this way, residents would be better suited to survive and function after the next storm comes through.
13 MIR homes have been completed to date. They utilize both solar hot water and solar electric systems. All 13 homes achieved LEED Platinum status. Displaced Lower Ninth Ward families now call these sustainable houses home.
Other Notable Solar Celebs
Cate Blanchett uses solar power on her home in Sydney, Australia, where she is also co-director of the Sydney Theatre Company and plans to incorporate solar panels and rainwater harvesting into the theater building. Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield has signed a deal with energy company Global NES Georgia to put a 40-acre solar farm on his property. Alicia Silverstone’s Los Angeles house holds a rooftop solar array and houses an organic vegetable garden. Alicia authored a book, The Kind Diet, which examines the environmental effects of the food we eat. Canadian-American singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette built solar panels on her home, adopted a vegan lifestyle, narrates films about conservation, campaigns against oil drilling in Alaska, drives a Toyota Prius and won the 2003 Environmental Media Association’s Missions In Music Award. Morissette and actor Woody Harrelson are set to release their Reco Jeans line of 50% recycled denim jeans. Leonardo DiCaprio is a well-known eco-celeb who has a solar home and regularly campaigns for various environmental and social justice issues. Other solar-powered celebs include Larry Hagman, Jackson Browne, Carlos Santana, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, and Robin Williams, among others. Even Pope Benedict XVI installed solar panels on his personal home in Germany.