By Jill Serjeant
Sun Feb 25, 6:25 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Whether it's forsaking a gas guzzling limo in favor of driving a hybrid car to the Oscars, or fitting their homes with solar panels, many celebrities embraced green causes long before they became fashionable.
Just as a famous face can sell a perfume, stars of stage and screen can sell a cause and scores of them are doing more than merely putting their money where their mouth is.
"Whether it's fashion or cultural trends, the entertainment industry has the ability to communicate to a global audience ideas that set forth actions and create change," said Debbie Levin, president of the Environmental Media Association which promotes green issues through the entertainment industry.
"Early adapters, like Cameron Diaz, led the way and now with everyone from Kirsten Dunst to Maroon 5 to Will Ferrell driving hybrid cars, (it) sends the message that it's cool to think and buy green," Levin said.
Following is a list of some of the leading green celebrity players:
Drivers of hybrid cars include: Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Carole King, Kirsten Dunst, Billy Joel, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, Julia Roberts, Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Alanis Morissette, David Duchovny, Patricia Arquette, Jackson Browne, Larry David, Danny DeVito and Bill Maher.
- ROBERT REDFORD: 30 years on board of Natural Resources Defense Council, founder of Sundance Preserve, winner of 1993 Earth Day award, 1987 United Nations Global 500 award. In April 2007, launches weekly three-hour slot called "The Green," dedicated entirely to the environment, on his Sundance TV channel.
- LEONARDO DICAPRIO: started the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998 to promote environmental issues, drives a hybrid car, currently writing and producing a feature length documentary on global warming called "11th Hour."
- BRAD PITT: co-creator of design competition to build 20 affordable, reduced energy, environmentally friendly homes in New Orleans.
- STING: founder in 1989 of Rainforest Foundation to protect rain forests and their indigenous peoples.
- HARRISON FORD: vice chairman of Conservation International, has a Central American ant named after him, won the Global Environmental Citizen Award in 2002.
- DAVE MATTHEWS BAND: offsets CO2 emissions produced by their multi-city tours by funding projects such as tree plantings and wind turbine construction.
- AL GORE: former U.S. vice president whose climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" was Oscar-nominated, also nominated for 2007 Nobel Peace prize.
- PIERCE BROSNAN: focuses on marine mammal and wetland protection, headlined Natural Resources Defense Council campaign against effects of Navy sonar on whales, awarded 1997 Green Cross International Environmental Leadership Award.
- CATE BLANCHETT: plans to equip Sydney Theater Company building with solar panels, rainwater collection systems to make it completely eco-friendly. Sydney home is fully powered by solar energy, donates to Forest Guardians.
- EDWARD NORTON: launched the BP Solar Neighbors Program in 2003 which matches each celebrity purchase of a solar energy home system with a solar installation in a low-income family home in Los Angeles.
By Jill Serjeant