J500 Media and the Environment

Celebrities Going Green…Or Are They? by jackiemcc

Last week, I was browsing the Internet, and came across one of ABC’s Stars Go Green videos. In these videos, they feature celebrities in their own homes who are going green.

These days so many stars are claiming to go green. However, after viewing the above video, I started to rethink the concept of celebrities going green. I began to wonder how many of them are actual leading green lives themselves.

It’s easy for someone to say they’re going green, but the truth is, that not all of them practice what they preach. There are many stars out there who say they support protecting the environment, but when you look at their personal lives, they are not following through with their word. All these stars are contributing to ‘greenwashing.’

Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, John Travolta, Natalie Portman, and Madonna are all among the culprits. Many of them preach for a greener environment, but when they’re off flying their own private jets and “using synthetic materials in [their] vegan line of footwear,” it’s hard to believe them. All of their practices are not supporting the environment.

But what is prompting these stars to greenwash? Last semester I took a “Current Issues in Journalism” course at KU. In this course, we discussed a lot of these same issues. We talked about how celebrities are used to promote popularity of certain products. Because consumers idolize certain celebrities, they may be tempted to buy a certain product if their favorite celebrity is using it.

As a result, celebrities might catch on to this, and take their popularity for advantage. They may think that because they’re popular, people will believe whatever they say. And this is what is happening with the “going green” trend. It is quite popular now, so the celebrities want say they support the cause, even if their actions don’t confirm it. Bottom line, they want to make themselves look good, so they can maintain public approval.

Whatever their reason, I would ask these celebrities who are not following through with their words, to please step aside and make room for those who are going green. There is no need for those who aren’t contributing to the issue; you’re not positively impacting the environment. I would rather hear from the celebrities who are, even if that means fewer.

-Jackie McClellan


8 Comments so far
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I am wondering who you think does do a good job of walking the walk? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

Thanks for all your comments guys!
Kristina and Becca- One celebrity that I do think is doing a good job at going green is U2. They support many organizations (environmentally-related and non environmentally-related), including Greenpeace. They are all listed here.
They also host many benefit concerts, and fundraise with various organizations. They just seem like a wholesome, caring group who is dedicated to those they support.
What got me interested in them was my aunt gave me a tee-shirt for a Christmas last year. She bought it at small store back at home, and the lady who worked there told her that part of their profits went to an organization that U2 donated money to. So I’ve been interested in their contributions since then.
Great question!
-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc

Celebrity environmentalism tends to be a joke. I actually addressed this same thing in part of my post this week, referencing Paul McCartney. “Cause celebs” mean well, but nobody who lives the kind of lifestyle the people you mentioned do can really be all that green. The travel alone that is such a part of the stereotypical “celebrity” lifestyle has to live a bigger carbon footprint than any of us does in the span of a few years. ~Ben C.

Comment by Ben

That’s a great point Ben. I did read your post, and you do make a very similar point. I think the issue is larger than many of us realize, which is really too bad.
I understand that their travel is a substantial and necessary component, but there are ways in which they could improve upon their traveling habits. Flying commercial, traveling by road, etc… They may have to give up a few other benefits, like time, luxury, and privacy, but if it’s for the environment, I’m all for it.
Thanks for the comment. Great point.
-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc

Interesting post. I think that celebrities are obviously used to promote going green, but it is clear that in some cases they do not even seem to truly care. Do you think that this false celebrity promotion for going green is working? And have you seen any celebrities that have actually done a good job with going green?
Becca N.

Comment by beccan

Thanks for reading Becca!
See my answer to Kristina’s question for who I think is doing a good job at going green, because you guys asked the same question. I think U2 is, but see above for the reasons why.
I agree that is quite obvious is some case that the celebrities used are not going green. I think this false celebrity promotion IS working in some cases, because a majority of the population isn’t critically analyzing the green situation, like our class is. I think it is working because most people don’t think twice about. I’m sure there are some people who would rather not have these false promotions like me however. But that percentage is probably small. I guess this is just the type of world we live in.
Great question!
-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc

Even though I agree with you that celebrities aren’t great poster-children for environmentalism, do you think it at least serves some purpose because people then become aware of environmentalism as an issue and, because it is endorsed by a hot pop icon, it’s not a weird cause to support?


Comment by Kelly

Kelly- You do make a good point. And yes I think it does serve a purpose. The companies sponsoring the ads know that that more people will be interested in it because their favorite celebrity is in it. That’s why they do it, to increase viewership. I think that is the way it has to work these days.
Great question!
-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc

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