Celebrities tackle new roles of advocates for living green
by Amy Mastin
Daryl Hannah, perhaps best known for her role as a lovestruck mermaid in "Splash" and more recently as a one-eyed assassin in "Kill Bill," is living off the grid. Her home in the Rocky Mountains is powered by solar energy, producing more than she uses. She grows her own vegetables, keeps bees and recycles rainwater for showers and her couch, too, as it's made from moss-covered stones found on the property.
Movie stars, TV legends and rockers alike aren't only talking green, they're living — and building — it. Julia Roberts fuels her home with solar energy, as does Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld's Elaine. Desperate housewife Eva Longoria and her husband, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, are incorporating recycled wood and a graywater treatment system into their new Hollywood home. Alicia Silverstone of "Clueless" fame owns a table made of flooring from an old bowling alley. And U2 frontman Bono showed off his home recycling center to none other than Al Gore. The former Vice President himself recently remodeled his 10,000-square-foot home in Nashville, Tenn., using the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Homes program after critics blasted him for excessive energy consumption.
"Some celebrities have been practicing and preaching green well before it was cool," says Michael d'Estries, cofounder of Ecorazzi.com, a website that tracks green habits of the stars. "Those that come to mind include Leonardo DiCaprio, Woody Harrelson, Ted Danson, Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson. We're starting to see celebrities move away from talking about the dangers of climate change and actually involving themselves in projects to fight it."
Ed Begley Jr. deserves special kudos for living green, d'Estries notes. Begley hosts a reality TV show, "Living with Ed;" his own line of eco-cleaners, Begley's Best; and a new book, "Living Like Ed: One Man's Guide to Living an Environmentally-Friendly Life."
Dubbed the "Greenest Man in Tinseltown" by HGTV, Begley powers his toaster with a stationary bike.
"It's taken some pretty dire environmental predictions to focus everyone's attention on the harm we're doing to the planet," Begley told Angie's List. "The message is finally being heard. I believe we need to live simply so that others can simply live."
Celebrities taking green to new extremes are Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. Norton started the Solar Neighbors program in which celebrities tout the virtues of solar power. And every time an invited celebrity purchases a BP solar system for their home, BP donates a similar system to a low-income family in Los Angeles. Actors Danny DeVito, Rhea Pearlman, Larry Hagman and Robin Williams are taking part, as is musician Carlos Santana.
In December, Pitt teamed with the National Association of Home Builders seeking donations to rebuild New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward. Will Ferrell, David Spade and Ellen DeGeneres, among many others, quickly responded with contributions.
"We're going to help to make it right with 150 sustainable, affordable houses," Pitt says. "Houses that stand out for their design both aesthetically and structurally, so that these people can live in beautiful safe structures that respect their spirit and provide a good quality of life."