By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
The “True Detective” star is undoubtedly a gentle soul; a vociferous animal advocate, a promoter of the legalisation of the natural material hemp (illegal to grow in many states due to the fact that it’s part of the marijuana family), and a huge supporter of the environment in general.
He’s earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor with ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt’ and ‘The Messenger’ and starred in the blockbuster ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,’ but the actor still finds plenty of time to dedicate to the saving the planet.
Woody Harrelson, the Eco-Entrepreneur
Harrelson’s dedication to the environment started young. “I’ve been concerned for years. When I was in the seventh grade, I did a report about the environment and the loss of species. It was supposed to be only a few pages, but ended up being nearly 50,” he laughs. But getting politically involved with causes came by chance: “Getting involved environmentally, really stepping out there, happened when I was doing “Cheers”,” he explains. “Ted Danson couldn’t make it to a couple of his meetings with the American Oceans Campaign, and he asked me if I would step in for him”.
From there, Harrelson’s activism has only grown–sometimes in innovative ways. Even before it was cool, Woody was already promoting eco-friendliness with his tree-free paper company. Teaming up with businessman Jeff Golfman, the actor formed Prarie Pulp & Paper. The Canadian based company became the industry leader in research, development and commercialisation of tree-free pulp and paper, which is currently sold at Staples and other outlets. But before that, their first endeavour was Step Forward Paper: a copy paper made of 80 percent agricultural waste wheat straw and 20 percent Forest Stewardship Council certified wood fibre, bleached using an elemental chlorine-free sequence.
But paper isn’t the only industry the actor has invested in: he’s recently thrown some money into a vegan/organic beer garden, Sage, which is apparently the world’s first such pub. Beyond organic brewskis, mouth-watering options such as the Jamaican Jerk (veggie) Burger, Raw Tacos, Goatless Greek Quinoa Kale Salad and vegan pizzas are on the menu. Woody Harrelson eats them all–he has been a long-time vegan and raw foodist, and he shares many of his favourite dishes with his customers and fans at Sage.
A Truly Eco Lifestyle
Personally, Harrelson is an avid cyclist and his house in Maui is apparently completely off-grid. He also spends a lot of his free time attending environmental events to learn about and spread awareness of sustainability. At these events, such as the PICNIC festival in Amsterdam in 2007, Woody isn’t only a V.I.P. guest; he’s always willing to mingle with the crowd. He even once joined some members of North Coast Earth First group to unfurl a banner on the Golden Gate in San Francisco that read “Hurwitz, Aren’t ancient redwoods more precious than gold?” in protest of MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber CEO Charles Hurwitz, who once stated, “He who has the gold, makes the rules.” Another time, Harrelson traveled to the west coast on a bike and a domino caravan with a hemp oil-fuelled biodiesel bus with The Spitfire Agency, with the mission of promoting sustainability.
In 2012, Woody also teamed up with PETA for the release of 14 chimpanzees that had been removed from retirement and sent to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in Texas. He, along with PETA, rescued the animals from being used in invasive and painful infectious disease experiments. This won him 2012s PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity.
But many think he’s more than just a sexy veggie: “He’s what we in Brooklyn call a stand-up guy,” says Rosie Perez, his costar in ‘White Men Can’t Jump.’ “He’s just so laid-back and f***ing hilarious. But if you were to pi** him off, get ready, because he would go there. He has a very strong sense of right and wrong.”
Harrelson agrees that he can be a divisive figure: “I’ve found that every time you stand up for something and open your mouth, you alienate someone,” he says. “I spent a lot of time wanting to become rich and famous, then when I got there, I found it was hollow. What is important to me is my connection with family and friends, and to nature, and to stand up for what I believe in. It really makes you feel good to follow through with your convictions. Granted, between opening my mouth and some of the movies I’ve chosen to do, I’ve alienated a lot of my fans, I’m sure. Hopefully I’ll make better movies, but I’ll never stop opening my large, prominent mouth”.
Images and quotes: imdb.com