Greenest Celebrity: Matt Damon
Clean air, clean water and clean food are the three pillars of a healthy environment, and actor Matt Damon is playing a big role with the adventurousness of a Bourne and some of the nerdiness of his Informant! character as a champion of clean water.
Such a prolific philanthropist that he parodied himself on Entourage ("I can't even believe that you have money to give to a foundation but you do, and you gave me your word that you would, so give me the @&*%ing check!"), Damon has lent his star power to an issue of pressing importance, but little public awareness: The global scarcity of clean water, particularly in Africa. It's a classic case of a celebrity using star power to elevate a neglected issue, rather than a celebrity riding a trendy issue to greater stardom.
He co-founded H2O Africa to promote health, human rights, political stability, sustainable development and environmental protection through clean water projects. In 2009, the organization merged with WaterPartners to create Water.org, which combines web 2.0 savvy, micro-loans and star power into a global, action-focused movement that is digging wells, safeguarding supplies and advocating for justice around the world, especially in distressed regions like Haiti.
Also active on political and humanitarian issues, including the genocide in Darfur, a typically bespeckled Damon always comes across as deeply knowledgeable. Because he is. Adding to his eco-smart resume this spring, he's hosting and narrating the Journey to Planet Earth PBS special, featuring the work of innovative green expert Lester Brown, author of "Plan B," as well as a host of other environmental thought leaders. True to Damon's form, the program addresses big problems but focuses on solutions.
For using his star power to elevate complex and neglected issues of worldwide importance, Matt Damon is our 2011 Celebrity Heart of Green Award winner.
See all the 2011 Heart of Green Celebrity nominees.
Dan Shapley and Brian Clark Howard