Hollywood’s worldwide megaphone gives it a major role to play in raising awareness about global warming and other urgent environmental concerns. Those in the entertainment industry have been working to spread the word about the importance of sustainability and embracing the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Hollywood also has work to do to minimize the carbon footprint of TV and film production — a process that may become more challenging in the months ahead, when pandemic-driven health protocols are factored into the mix.
Organizations such as the Environmental Media Assn., Natural Resources Defense Council and the fledgling Good Energy Project collaborate with screenwriters to weave environmental messages into movies and TV shows. Other activists work with celebrities to engage audiences, raise money and lobby in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere for green legislation.
Here’s a look at prominent nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups that work with the industry to create a more sustainable world.
Environmental Media Organization
Founded by entertainment industry activists including Norman and Lyn Lear and Alan and Cindy Horn, the organization focuses on getting environmental messaging into storytelling
Headquarters: Los Angeles
- Pitching writers environmental storylines and characters that have been used in shows and movies including “Scandal,” “Contagion” and “Avatar”
- Current and incoming executive board officers include David Margulies, Lance Bass, Amy Smart, Jaden Smith, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nina Dobrev, Jane Fonda and Natalie Portman
- EMA Green Seal program initiated in 2003 provides studios with guidelines and criteria on sustainability in order to receive the org’s seal
- Hosts an annual two-day Impact Summit for scientists, medical professionals, corporations and celebrities to discuss green innovations, complete with a “Shark Tank”-style competition where entrepreneurs can pitch sustainability ideas
- Recruits celebrities to participate in the School Garden Program to establish organic gardens across the country
- Launched EMA Talks series amid the pandemic to host conversations with supporters including actors Nikki Reed and Madelaine Petsch as well as activists, scientists and academics
Natural Resources Defense Council
Over the past half-century, NRDC has grown from a small group of lawyers lobbying for environmental litigation to a global organization with 3 million members
Headquarters: New York
- Rewrite the Future initiative provides consultation with film and television writing staffs to implement storylines that reflect the impact of climate change on shows including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Affair”
- Board members include Robert Redford, James Taylor, Leonardo DiCaprio and Julia Louis-Dreyfus
- Produces PSAs with Louis-Dreyfus, Rashida Jones and others in support of NRDC and environmental justice concerns
- Sigourney Weaver, Rachel McAdams and Pierce Brosnan are among those who have narrated NRDC documentaries; “Sonic Sea,” narrated by McAdams, earned two Emmy Awards in 2017
- Produced public discussions at Sundance 2020 that featured sit-downs with Ron Howard and Louis-Dreyfus
The largest and oldest environmental grassroots organization, with more than 3.8 million members and 64 chapters across the country
Headquarters: Oakland, Cailf.
- Works with celebrities to promote green ideas and resources, including Cara Delevingne sharing an Instagram post in which she solicited signatures for the club’s Break Free From Plastic Pollution petition
- Outreach to Writers program introduces scribes to experts in order to implement accurate environmental storylines on such series as “Madam Secretary” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
- The club’s Arts & Entertainment Council members include Darren Aronofsky, Jared Leto, Susan Sarandon, Olivia Munn and Amber Valletta
The Nature Conservancy
The venerable science and conservation-focused organization works to reduce heat in cities, protect water quality around the world and study wildlife and forests
Headquarters: Arlington, Va.
- Plant a Billion Trees campaign in seven countries has tapped Dave Matthews Band, Martha Stewart, Jack Johnson, Kate Hudson and Sophia Bush to promote the effort on social media
- Partners with organizations to pick optimal trees for given environments and helps with planting process
- Distributes educational resources through its Nature Lab
- Supports women and girls through Beadworks and TNC Africa programs; actors Paul Bettany, Vanessa Williams and Maria Menounos are among the celebrities who have shared resources with fans
Focused on protection of the world’s oceans, Oceana is dedicated to combating ocean pollution, protecting undersea habitats and addressing overfishing crises; actor Ted Danson’s American Oceans Project merged with Oceana in 2002
Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
- Organizes celebrity on-the-ground efforts across the world such as Rashida Jones’ visit to Belize in 2013
- Works with stars such as January Jones, Sam Waterston and Danson to lobby Congress; Jones’ effort helped pass the Shark Conservation Act in 2009
- Board of directors includes Danson and Waterston
- Annual fundraising galas and conferences have featured performances by Sting, Jackson Browne, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Don Henley
- Supports lobbying and litigation to block the Trump administration’s efforts to allow oil drilling in oceans
Good Energy Project
Expected to launch in fall 2020, the Good Energy Project, founded by climate activist Anna Jane Joyner, is a pro bono consulting firm that works with TV and movie creatives to develop environmentally conscious storylines and characters
- Partnerships with NRDC, Sierra Club and Center for Cultural Power
- Provides consultation services, writers’ room visits and resource toolkits
- Offers research aid to writers by connecting them with experts
- Hosts monthly webinars on climate storytelling themes
Variety’s Sustainability Resource Guide is presented by Toyota Mirai.