For Julia Louis-Dreyfus, her passionate environmental concerns begin, literally, with the view from her window. From there, they go on to target Washington, D.C.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Santa Monica Bay was being used as a dump. Dolphins had reproductive problems. Surfers and swimmers complained of infections. The city of Los Angeles’ Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant was flushing barely treated sewage into the bay. In 1985, a small group of people joined forces to fight city hall. And they won. Heal the Bay was born.
Today, the bay is cleaner but far from perfect. “If you go down to the beach, you can see foam packing pieces and cigarette butts,” says Louis-Dreyfus. “People think the sand is like an ashtray, and they just throw a butt in it.”
Louis-Dreyfus first became acquainted with the org’s work 15 years ago, when she hosted a benefit. “I was a new mother, and I live near the coast. The notion that beaches would close down for pollution was an eye opener.”
The actress began putting her time, energy and money into Heal the Bay. “There’s a great value in supporting local grassroots organizations,” she says. “You can see tangible results. After all, the beach is our backyard. I love Beach Clean-Up Day because it has great meaning from a family point of view; I take my kids, Henry and Charlie, to it. It’s a great educational tool for children.”
Along with the local Heal the Bay, environmental enthusiast Louis-Dreyfus is also involved with the international action group Natural Resources Defense Council.
“NRDC is international and Heal the Bay is local. They work arm in arm all the time,” explains Louis-Dreyfus. “NRDC is involved in environmental legislation.”
The influential nonprofit, founded in 1970, with its 1.2 million members, online activists and 350 lawyers, fights to safeguard wildlife and wild places.
“They are not afraid to go after a fat cat with enormous pull who is misbehaving when it comes to environmental responsibility,” she adds.