Today, in the world, almost 62,800 forest fires are detected from space by satellite. Amazonia, Central Africa and Indonesia, among others, are still burning. Trees are an intrinsic part of life on earth. ‘Inside every turning leaf, is the pattern of an older tree, the shape of our future, the shape of all our history,’ to quote one of Sting’s songs. ELLE meets with some of the most enthusiastic eco-celebrities fighting to give trees a break, and some oxygen, in return. Let’s breathe with them all!
Meet Gisele Bundchen. Before becoming one of the most influential models worldwide, Gisèle grew up in Brazil in an eco-conscious family. Her Instagram account is an ecosystem in itself and she makes sustainability and the environment look incredibly sexy. With her husband, Tom Brady, they educate their children in an environmentally friendly spirit—keeping bees and compost are on their to-do list. Clever!
ELLE: What prompted you to first get involved with this environmental organization?
GISELE BUNDCHEN (GB): I’ve always felt a deep connection to nature. But it wasn’t until my first trip to the Amazon Rainforest in 2004, when I was able to spend time with local indigenous peoples and see first-hand the impact that the destruction of the forest and its resources was having on the lives of communities and wildlife, that I fully committed to doing everything I could to help the environment. That experience was awakening–one of the most important moments in my life. Since then, I have used my visibility to increase awareness about the importance of preserving our natural resources and living in harmony with nature. After all, without nature, none of us could survive.
ELLE: What are its current goals and current projects?
GB: I’m working with UNEP to bring attention to the environmental agenda and following through with an initiative that I did for my 40th birthday last year, of planting as many trees as possible–in this case, 260,000 in the Amazon region! In addition to that, I am always focused on my main goal, which is helping to create a positive impact in our world wherever I can.
ELLE: What is the worst thing you have witnessed?
GB: The worst thing I’ve seen are the fires, which destroy everything in their path, not only trees and animals but also the surrounding biodiversity. It’s truly heartbreaking.
ELLE: And the most hopeful or best?
GB: Hope is everywhere. So many people are hard at work on so many different initiatives and uncovering
solutions for all the challenges we face. I experienced this personally with the Agua Limpa Project in the region of Brazil where I grew up. After we reforested the riverbanks, the entire ecosystem changed for the better. The quality of the water improved, animals reinhabited the ecological corridor, and biodiversity increased. It was a testament to the incredible power of nature and a reminder that when you give nature a hand, and some help, she will reward you and thrive.
ELLE: How do you think the conversation around environmental issues has changed in recent years?
GB: The good news is that society is a lot more involved and conscious about environmental issues. More people today understand the impact the environment has on our lives, and that we need to work together to preserve our shared, and finite, natural resources.
ELLE: If you were President of the earth, what laws or amendments would you enforce to make the planet a better place to live in?
GB: Well, first, companies would be responsible for producing their products in the most sustainable, ethical ways possible. They would also be responsible for reverse logistics, for example, properly disposing of the waste once their products’ life cycles ended. The most exemplary companies, the ones with the most positive measurable impact in society, would be eligible for tax benefits and credits. Those that fell behind would be subject to higher taxes. Meditation, and other tools that allow us to know ourselves more deeply, would be taught in every school, alongside courses focused on social and environmental concerns.
That way, everyone would grow up mindful of the impact their choices have on the lives of others and on our planet. Kids and teenagers would spend more time outside in nature, to make a connection that would positively integrate their social, physical and emotional wellbeing. This would help to create more empathetic, happier and healthier kids. Finally, collaboration would be the guiding principle. We are stronger when we work together for the benefit of all, and the more connected and in harmony, we are with nature, the more connected we will be with ourselves.
Photographs: Courtesy of ELLE International, Instagram