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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi and Maria Woncisz
While the model stereotype is that of a narcissistic, self-centred bimbo, in most cases, nothing could be further from the truth–many models are actually humble, sweet, charitable, and very eco-conscious. Whether by championing animal rights, speaking out against forest destruction or eliminating toxins from personal care products, each of our top eco-friendly models brings her personal angle to spreading awareness on the importance of sustainability.
But who’s at the top of the list, and who’s almost off it altogether, and why?
Number 1: The Queen of Green, Summer Rayne Oakes
Summer Rayne Oakes, an environmental scientist-turned-model who is globally renowned for her commitment to the environment, is one of the most inspiring individuals currently exploring the potential for the fashion industry to go green.
A graduate in Natural Resources, Entomology and Geographic Information Systems of Cornell University, she was named “A Global Citizen” by Vanity Fair, and is a true nature lover and eco-advocate.
Summer channelled her passion for the environment into a message to mainstream audiences through several means. For one, she decided to align herself with more environmentally and socially relevant companies and projects, but she also wrote the best-selling “Style, Naturally: The savvy shopping guide to Sustainable Fashion and Beauty”, and designed a line of recycled optics and shades called eco by Summer Rayne Oakes. Recently, she produced an award-winning environmental art short eXtinction and co-founded the online sustainable materials marketplace Source4Style. Whew! Could her list of achievements be any more impressive?
Well actually, they do go on! Summer Rayne was featured in Steve McCurry’s 2013 Pirelli Calendar, which focused on women with environmental and humanitarian causes. Additionally, she is a Udall environmental scholar, PERC Environmental Fellow and National Wildlife Federation Fellow. She also Tweets daily about environmental news and events.
The combination of her wonderful academic background, very successful modelling career and incredibly skilful media and marketing approach have made her one of the most inspiring and acclaimed eco-activists today, by far.
In Second Place: Miranda Kerr is Top of the Green Tops
One Victoria’s Secret Angel who decided to make her own line of eco-friendly cosmetics is Miranda Kerr, owner of the organic skin care brand Kora Organics. A vegan who eats mainly organic food, Ms Kerr is a great supporter of many eco-organisations, including Greenpeace, and has been deeply involved with the issue dealing with the preservation of the koala’s natural habitat, a matter that is dear to the heart of this Australian native–Miranda even posed nude on the cover of Rolling Stone to draw more attention to the cause. Indeed, as a longtime supporter PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), she has long been crusading against animal testing–in fact, she delights in stating that her own Kora products are only tested on the gorgeous face of…herself!
A Respectable Third: Lili Cole is Top of the Class
This multi-millionaire supermodel and actress with a Cambridge double-first in the History of Art never ceases to amaze. The doll-faced beauty who has worked with Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Marc Jacobs to name a few, supports a variety of environmental and humanitarian causes.
Recently she launched her own label The North Circular (clothing made of the wool from rescued sheep), which supports the Environment Justice Foundation with 5% of its profits. Lily promoted The Climate Week T-Shirt designed by Kishimoto, and modelled an Environmental Justice Foundation T-shirt with the slogan Save the Future, to promote the battle against child labour in the fashion industry.
Over the years, she has been supporting WaterAid, The World Land Trust’s Emerald for Elephant Exhibition, Global Angels and the Environmental Justice Foundation. Lily is a true role model of how to be fashionable and eco-friendly at the same time, and her outstanding contribution to environmental and humanitarian causes has been recognised by a variety of organisations. A number of times, as part of her modelling work for companies such as Marks and Spencer, she was allowed to be the face of their “green” approach–she appeared on a range of alternative shopping bags by M&S and went to Kalahari as the face of De Beers to see the work of their charity.
“I’m not like some cliche hippy, but I really love trees and I love nature. And that appreciation has grown as I’ve got older,” she says.
Heidi Klum: Not Bad at Number 4
Heidi makes a great green role model for her children. The blonde supermodel and designer of the baby collection Truly Scrumptious, has divulged the importance of sustainability through her activities as a television host in ‘Project Runway,’ where contestants compete with each other to create the best clothes and are restricted in time, materials and theme. As for the way she manages her personal closet, she has become deeply involved with green brands: lately she has been spotted wearing pieces designed by M. Patmos, who uses zero-waste seamless knitting technology, faux fur made from wool and alpaca, and vegetable tanned leather.
Heidi has a blog where she promotes the use of a series of ‘green’ products that spans from bamboo hairbrushes to recyclable razors.
The world’s highest paid supermodel, Gisele Bundchen, has been a long-standing supporter of the environment and a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme since 2009. Gisele grew up in Brazil and witnessed nature’s splendour, along with the destruction of forests and its affect on the surrounding communities. Hence, with the aim of reflecting on socio-environmental issues, in 2008 Gisele started a green blog to promote eco-awareness, and in that same year she and her father launched the Projeto àgua Limpa (Clean Water Project, ) in her hometown of Horizontina, to implement sustainable environmental management and promote the recovery of riparian vegetation. The Brazilian star of the catwalk also founded her own line of sustainable cosmetics, Sejaa, that adheres to Green-Certified standards, and has been involved in several environmental campaigns.
However, Gisele’s new 22,000 sq foot mansion, built on virgin land in the Hollywood hills, is really disappointing. The model claims the mansion’s solar panels and use of reclaimed wood (perhaps from the trees she cut down to build it?) make it eco-friendly, but considering 30 1 bedroom apartments could fit into it; it has a 6 car garage; 8 huge bedrooms and en suite bathrooms (for a family of 4), plus the fact that you need elevators to get to other floors, there’s simply nothing that could make this monstrosity eco-friendly. Come on Gisele, practice a bit more of what you preach!