Green chic: At last top celebrities wake up to plight of the planet

Between the ads for diamond watches and designer bags in one of America's glossiest magazines, A-listers have gone green. By Severin Carrell and Geoffrey Lean

A A A

Inside a leaf-coloured cover, an alpha list of names from Julia Roberts to Robert Kennedy Jnr, and George Clooney to Bette Midler are sending a message to their President and all those still in eco-denial. "Time to get real, " the magazine tells its 1 million buyers. "Global warming is the problem ­ the biggest problem. It's not a matter of when any longer. It's here. Green is the future ­ the only future."

Hot in pursuit, Elle magazine ("go green with our round-up of the best organic treatments for your body") will unveil its own environmentally friendly issue this week for May with a competing clutch of celebrities, including Cameron Diaz, television star Evangeline Lilly, supermodel Carolyn Murphy, and ­ yes ­ Robert Kennedy Jnr.

Back here the fashionistas are abuzz about David Cameron, who since being elected Tory leader has given the greenies kudos and clout. This week he heads off to study global warming in the high Arctic togged out against the cold by polar explorer Tom Avery.

"Green is the new black," Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair's editor, declares, promising that the magazine ­ relaunched to exploit Ronald Reagan's "greed is good" era ­ will keep up "an increased commitment to reporting on the threat to our precious environment", especially climate change.

Alongside its adverts for Louis Vuitton handbags, Mercedes people-carriers and Dior diamond watches, it reassures its readers that being green " doesn't need to be grim".

"In this special issue, Vanity Fair cuts through the hand-wringing, denial and confusion about climate change with an in-depth look at the challenge ahead, a 30-page portfolio of a passionately, pro-environment new generation. Don't just sit there, turn the page."

The trouble is that this page, and all the others in the issue, is printed on non-recycled paper. "They were scrambling to do it, but it was too short a time frame and they couldn't make it happen," says one insider.

So the "green edition", critics calculate, has used up 2,247 tons of trees. And that's not to mention the production of 4,331,757 pounds of greenhouse gases, 13,413,922 gallons of waste water and 1,744,060 pounds of solid waste.

Elle promises greater virtue. "We are the first fashion magazine to devote an entire issue to the environment and the first to print that entire issue, including the fashion well, on recycled paper," boasts Carol Smith, the group publishing director. "The response from our advertisers has been absolutely inspiring. The Green Issue is a perfect example of the right idea at the right time in the right magazine."

It is Vanity Fair, however, that wins the eco-celebrity clash. Its green-tinted cover shot ­ by legendary snapper Annie Leibowitz ­ features Julia Roberts green-clad and garlanded with leaves, with George Clooney, Robert Kennedy and Al Gore tastefully laid out at her feet.

Thronging the pages are Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California; actors Edward Norton and Bette Midler; Lord Browne of Madingley, BP's chief executive (shot by Lord Snowdon); and Zac Goldsmith (described with more awe than accuracy as "the eco-aristocrat".)

All pledge their environmental faith, but it is the former vice-president Gore who grabs the most space by penning a long essay on global warming.

It is something of a second coming for him. He originally ran for high office on an environmental platform, but seemed to forget it once elected: America's emissions of greenhouse gases grew so fast under him and Bill Clinton that George Bush could never have met the Kyoto Protocol's targets, even if he had wanted to.

If Al Gore had stuck to his principles first time round he would probably be president today.

For Ralph Nader ran against him on a Green Party platform, capturing enough votes in Florida from disillusioned environmentalists to hand the White House to the "Toxic Texan".

For those who do want to practise what they preach, Vanity Fair includes a pull-out supplement advising its readers to stop using plastic carrier bags, use green household paints, grow grass on their roofs and finish off with green burials in wicker coffins.

Its conversion has bemused eco-Brits. "It's quite ironic that a magazine which champions the most destructive lifestyles are now majoring with green issues," says Tony Juniper, the director of Friends of the Earth.

But even he concedes it may convince the glamour-hungry that being green does not inevitably entail endless lentils and unbleached linen shirts.

Additional reporting: Marie Woolf

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?