At the 82nd Academy Awards, an event famous for its decadence and sparkling glitterati, Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson arrived wearing a custom-made Burberry tuxedo made entirely of hemp.
The suit represented Harrelson’s well-known support of hemp, a sustainable material that could substitute both paper and cloth in the near future.
In recent years, several prominent celebrities, including Jon Bon Jovi and Angelina Jolie, have stepped into the spotlight and showed the world how living sustainably could be glamorous and even fun.
But how financially effective are celebrity endorsements? Do they succeed in altering the average consumer’s opinion of organic products? Do they inspire more people to recycle, much less take on a whole new lifestyle?
Michael d’Estries, co-creator of Ecorazzi.com, was inspired to create a green gossip website after his co-founder, Rebecca Carter, wrote an article on eco-friendly celebrity activists for another website he runs.
“It’s no secret that celebrity gossip sites drive a lot of traffic online, and I thought it would be beneficial to tap into that and try and make some good come from it,” he says
While Ecorazzi.com began with just a focus on green issues, the website eventually branched out into other hot-button topics, such as animal rights and ethical fashion.
“We thought we might give organizations being backed by these celebs a bit more of the spotlight and help push their initiatives to a larger audience,” d’Estries adds.
Despite all the hype surrounding A-list celebrities these days, d’Estries is unsure whether or not celebrity sponsorship of green products really affects the consumer’s decision to go green. He explains that the effectiveness of these public endorsements are difficult to gauge, even though we are exposed to new advertisements on a regular basis, from online ads to giant billboards.
“If you see a picture of George Clooney holding a bottle of organic vodka, that’s definitely going to resonate,” d’Estries says. “Celebrities do that. They’re recognizable and definitively draw attention to products.
Whether or not that translates into sales is another thing. I think they’re probably more effective at using the spotlight to draw awareness to campaigns and initiatives than products.”
According to d’Estries, celebrities who want to support green causes have had to go the extra mile in recent years. While charitable donations and other humanitarian initiatives do not necessarily require celebrities to change their everyday lifestyle, actors, socialites and other high-profile stars are now expected to adopt the green campaigns they advocate.
“Back when green was hot, you had a bevy of famous faces backing green campaigns but doing very little in their personal lives to provide a level of genuine support. It wasn’t malicious, just short-sighted. Most celebrities love to give back by sharing the spotlight – but rarely do they have to change their own lifestyles as a result,” d’Estries says.
“This early adoption of green issues, in many ways, hurt the green scene as people naturally concentrated on the celebrity’s failings, rather than the big picture of the campaign they were supporting.”
“I’m seeing a lot more education on the topics than earlier – and a lot more passion too,” d’Estries adds.
A few of d’Estries’ personal favorites include Daryl Hannah, Leonardo DiCaprio, Alicia Silverstone and Ed Begley Jr. d’Estries calls Begley Jr. “a constant green machine in every aspect of his life,” and says he was impressed with Silverstone’s green efforts, which to date include the publication of a vegan book and the launch of a website devoted to tips on maintaining a vegan diet.
Luckily for both Hollywood and Mother Nature, it looks like “green” is a trend that is here to stay.
“One can definitely make the case that ‘going green’ doesn’t have the same marketing buzz that it carried a few years ago, but I think green issues transcend the ‘trend’ label in how they impact our lives and the world around us,” d’Estries says. “I personally believe the movement is maturing to a point where it doesn’t have to compete with, say, the iPad in terms of something hip.”
So what are a few green trends that are in style now? d’Estries says that going vegan and wearing animal-friendly fashion are gaining momentum in the celebrity world, as are an increase in the number of vegetarian food scenes.
On the other hand, driving a hybrid is considered normal, which makes it “out of style,” especially in light of the new electric car models slated for release later this year.