You can’t craft an issue on planetary wellness without mentioning one of its most prominent and effective faces. So once we realized that Leonardo DiCaprio would be the obvious choice for a sustainability cover, our founder subsequently could think of nothing else than the shining Los Angeles Megastar.
He’s hot, he’s helpful, he’s Hollywood—and he’s very Honeysuckle. And despite being eminently unknowable, his presence is felt everywhere Earth lovers gather. Though we couldn’t ever quite physically reach him, we did get close, and a prevailing “Leo Light“ seemed to guide us wherever we went.
Does Leonardo DiCaprio Care About The Environment?
First, at Noco Hemp Expo in Colorado, we met producers and activists involved in the upcoming documentary, Kiss the Ground, a revolutionary film by award-winning couple Josh and Rebecca Tickell, executive produced by DiCaprio. Kiss the Ground explores the pioneering concepts of regenerative agriculture; the documentary and its main subject, soil expert Ray Archuleta, are both reviewed in our issue ONE. When we asked Josh about Leo, he commented only that while DiCaprio is producing the film, he is “the most mysterious man I’ve never met.” They’ve never had direct contact.
This international mystery man became more and more intriguing. So, much like the destiny of the planet, we realized we must take this matter into our own hands (also very Honeysuckle).
The 007 of sustainability has become synonymous with environmental action, to the point of telling Rolling Stone journalist Stephen Rodrick that such work “consumes” him. As Rodrick reported, DiCaprio is “not just a man but also an organic commodity that can be used for good or evil.” We’ve discovered he uses his powers primarily for good with far-reaching initiatives.
Leonardo DiCaprio's Movie on The Environment
DiCaprio, now 47 years-old, founded his own organization in 1998 to protect the planet’s remaining wild places and restore balance to global ecosystems. Now celebrating its twentieth anniversary, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) implements solutions to our most pressing ecological issues through grants and programming in six diverse sectors: Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions. In 2014 alone, LDF donated $3 million to stop overfishing, $3 million to protect tigers in Nepal, and an undisclosed amount to support the creation of marine reserves in the Pacific. While the word “eco-holism” doesn’t appear in the foundation’s mission statement, it’s evident that the organization’s work promotes the oneness of life on Earth.
Not all activists practice what they preach, but DiCaprio has proven his environmental commitment in multitudinous ways. As a filmmaker, DiCaprio continues to spearhead environment-focused media such as the documentaries The 11th Hour and Before the Flood. He owns a fleet of fully electric and hybrid cars. Most recently, he’s developed the Belize-based eco-resort Blackadore Caye, a luxury wellness center opening later this year which is completely powered by renewable energy and designed to improve the biological health of species on the island and its surrounding waters.
Leo, Lion Preservation and Wildlife
It’s difficult to single out just one of DiCaprio’s projects as they are all impactful, but we deeply admire his sweeping efforts toward preserving Earth’s most beautiful species of wildlife. The Lion Recovery Fund, operated in conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Network and a group of international constituents, aims to raise and invest tens of millions of dollars to subsidize conservationists across the African continent working to reestablish lion populations and other wildland species. Uniquely, 100% of every dollar raised will go directly to the partners in the field with zero administrative fees or overhead.
Looking to the immediate future, a two-year project in northeastern Argentina will restore a critical ecosystem, the 3.2 million acre Iberá wetlands, thus reintroducing jaguars and other mammals and birds that have been extinct locally for many years. This is strikingly prescient timing for such a project, as news broke on June 22, 2018 that one of only two remaining wild jaguars in the United States had been killed.
“I’ll get into more specifics about wildlife, in particular, tigers and snow leopards and wolves,” DiCaprio noted in a statement on his and LDF’s goals through 2020.
To these ends, LDF and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF, for which DiCaprio serves as a board member) are working on a program to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022. And in partnership with The Christensen Fund, LDF is helping to support and expand a ten-year project in Central Asia dedicated to saving snow leopards from extinction. The initiative involves a wide array of community organizations, and the ongoing effort is focused on backing the revitalization of cultural and spiritual relationships to landscapes and local stewardship of biodiversity.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Climate Action
Actions speak louder than words or mythos. The powerful work DiCaprio and LDF continue to do, whether in conservation, innovation, or combating climate change, truly distinguishes Leo as an advocate for the Earth.
He has been designated a United Nations Messenger of Peace for Climate Change. At the 2015 Mayor’s Summit in Paris, he said: “I have traveled to places like the Arctic, the Antarctic, Greenland, where scientists were astonished to find once-solid impermeable ancient glaciers rapidly melting away. In Canada I have seen the devastation left behind in the wake of energy giants who have leveled large tracts of the great Boreal forest in an insatiable quest for tar sands oil. In India, I met with farmers in a village outside of New Delhi whose crops and livelihoods had been destroyed by unprecedented flooding.”
DiCaprio recognizes that each organism impacts the state of our world, and in his every contribution, tacitly acknowledges the truth that we are all connected. “One thing is fundamentally clear,” he observed during his address at the 2015 Climate Summit for World Leaders (a conference which led to the landmark Paris Agreement). “We are able to solve our greatest challenges when we find the will to work together.”
When one considers the massive undertaking necessary for what DiCaprio hopes to see achieved—a world based on renewable energy and respect for all living things—it makes sense that he’d keep himself at a distance. Yet in our journey through modern sustainability, we found his imprint hard to ignore. From UN representatives to field experts, countless people we surveyed for this issue had something to say about DiCaprio. We even got invited to an event taking place in his New York City condo—which is currently for sale, by the way—where he would be “hosting” but of course not attending.)
Ultimately, searching for Leo is a lot like understanding humanity’s relationship with the Earth. You can’t always get what you want… but you can get what you need.
For information about the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s programs, visit leonardodicaprio.org.