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
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?