Heights of Hypocrisy: Celebrity ‘Eco-Warriors’

Sorry to all of the jet-setting celebs spreading their environmental gospel far and wide, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too. It seems like every week there is a new celebrity coming into the hot seat for saying one thing and then doing another with regard to the environment. If any of you happen to be reading this — Mr. DiCaprio, Kardashian family, Zuck, etc. — it’s about time that you guys pick a side and stick with it. Because the only thing worse than flying private jets around willy nilly is flying private jets around willy nilly and then having the audacity to preach about the importance of ‘living green’ to your legions of followers. Followers are being duped into thinking that it’s somehow possible to be environmentally conscious while also taking private jet joy rides every other day. And if you think that this is somehow an acceptable way to use the privilege of an elevated social platform, well, then you’ve probably got too much of a different type of green in your life.

What makes these ‘climate criminal’ celebrities so dangerous is the fact that they are sending out a subliminal message of exemptionalism. Something like: ‘It’s okay for us to rack up a massive carbon footprint because our faithful fans and the other responsible members of gen. pop. will always be there to pick up the slack.’ Putting aside how unfair that mindset is, it also sets a terrible precedent for the youth of today who, thanks to the social media explosion, are now able to see what their famous role models are up to rather than simply hearing them talk. Ask any young social media user these days about what they would do if they were rich and famous and ninety nine out of a hundred will talk about their aspirations for a private jet or yacht or some other gas-guzzling mega-apparatus. And sure, that wouldn’t be a particularly new or surprising response, but it is an unfortunate reflection on our current society — a society in which climate awareness is much more prevalent than it has been in the past — that people continue to put materialism ahead of the environment to such a degree. These dual-identity, eco-warrior celebrities are culprits numero uno for this stagnation in our culture. 

Kylie Jenner’s name has recently been making the rounds across the various grocery-store-checkout-aisle magazines because news broke about her frequent seventeen-minute flights from Van Nuys, CA to Palm Springs, CA — a trip for which the driving time would be only about two hours, according to the LA Times. Oprah Winfrey, seemingly a champion of sustainability and the environment, is also notorious for racking up a massive carbon footprint, according to Autoevolution — and same with Bill Gates. The list goes on and on. You could make a case that even though these people have a disproportionately high carbon footprint, at least they are sending out a positive message, right? Wrong. In addition to the bad precedent their behavior sets, the other big negative that comes from it is that it undermines public faith — and that is downright dangerous. Normal people don’t have access to private jets, helicopters and yachts, so, for us, there isn’t even an option of whether to take them or not. Wealthy celebrities do have the choice, and the fact that most of them choose wrong — taking gas-guzzlers over alternative methods — belies their verbal commitments to the environment. It all contributes to a confusing mess; fans of a celebrity get caught between a rock and a hard place with the rock being the celebrity and the hard place being an actual respect for environmental sustainability. 

So what is the point of knowing all this? Anyone that follows the news every now and then already has heard about celeb eco-warrior antics. Well, sometimes people just need a reminder that appearances are deceiving. It also serves as a useful reminder that we, as individuals, can’t always look up to public figures as role models for the right thing to do. Celebrities, after all, are just people. You, reader, are savvy and intelligent and one hundred percent capable of making environmentally focused lifestyle changes on your own. Just remember that people who actually care about environmental sustainability don’t have to flaunt it and broadcast their high-and-mightiness to the whole world. They let their actions do the talking.