Celebrities raise awareness of California drought Morning traffic makes its way toward downtown Los Angeles along the Hollywood Freeway past an electronic sign warning of severe drought (AP photos)
Celebrities raise awareness of California drought
Lexile

From drought-shaming to eco-boasting, willing or not, celebrities are playing a role in raising awareness about California's debilitating drought.

Stars whose homes boast lush, green lawns at a time when residents have been asked to cut back on water may be drought-shamed on social media. Meanwhile, eco-conscious entertainers hoping to take the lead on water conservation talk proudly of their drought-friendly gardens.

"We're all in this together," said actress Wendie Malick, who relies on well water at her home in the Santa Monica Mountains. "Unfortunately, it had to come to this crisis moment to get us all on board."

Celebrity enclave Beverly Hills, where many lawns remain bright green, approved new water restrictions and penalties for violating them. Enforcement is set to begin this month.

Beachside Malibu has long had water restrictions in place, according to the city's environmental programs specialist, Casey Zweig. While she says the city would never engage in drought-shaming, it does offer a website where residents can anonymously report their water-wasting neighbors. Zweig said her team visits the offending properties personally.

"Once you reach people with this information, they tend to really want to do the right thing and figure out what the best solution is," she said. "People who live in Malibu love the natural aspect. They want to coexist in a lot of ways with these beautiful natural surroundings that they're paying top dollar to live in."

Offenders in the city, though, have multiple chances to make things right before facing fines, Zweig said.

Barbra Streisand, a past drought-shaming target, said she and husband James Brolin have let most of the lawns go brown at their Malibu compound. The couple is also working with a water-reuse company to install a graywater system and rainwater cisterns, she said, "should California be lucky enough to get some rain."

Cher, another Malibu resident, has also let her grass go brown and has talked about the water shortage on Twitter. In a post last month, she complained California used fresh water for fracking.

"WE'RE IN A CATASTROPHIC DROUGHT, WATER MEANS LIFE??" she wrote. "WE CANT DRINK OIL."

Kelly Osbourne drought-shamed herself on Instagram by sharing her guilt over taking a bath and saying she planned to re-use the water.

Malick, who serves on the board of the Environmental Media Association, said "making green cool" is part of the organization's mission statement.

"If people emulate those that they're fans of... why not show them some behavior that is great for the planet?" she said.

Being eco-conscious "is the way to be trendy in Hollywood," EMA president Debbie Levin said, adding that studios are also keen on the effort and some have replaced lawns with artificial turf.

Industry-watcher Michael Levine said it's important that celebrities make the same cutbacks as other Californians because "people care about a sense of fairness."

"They think, 'I'm not going to sacrifice if Brad Pitt doesn't sacrifice,'" Levine said.

Both Levine and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton think concern about the drought hasn't reached a tipping point yet in Hollywood, where it's often socially obligatory to be on board with conscientious trends.

"It's an issue that doesn't trigger an emotional response in a lot of people," Hilton said. "Or maybe they're afraid to speak out because they might be branded hypocrites."

Still, he says only the most publicly eco-aware stars could be damaged by drought-shaming.

"For someone like Kim Kardashian," he said, "people would probably expect her to be watering her lawn and breaking the rules."

Critical thinking challenge: What is drought-shaming?

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COMMENTS (10)
  • NW2000Bball
    6/04/2015 - 08:39 a.m.

    I cant believe that California is experiencing a drought as we speak. I just never thought of a time where we had to limit our water use because there is so much of it in the world.

  • 1seanB
    6/04/2015 - 01:37 p.m.

    Celebrities are complaining that there isn't that much rain falling from the sky and that beverly Hills grass is starting to die! To me thats a bad thing because, like the celebrity said we cant just drink oil we need water to live, and shes right. It encourages me that even celebrities care about the droughts that are happening in California are affecting them, that must mean that a serious drought is happening. Hopefully something happens to the weather in California for rain to come.

  • 5ReganF
    6/04/2015 - 01:44 p.m.

    Extension:

    I have heard a little bit about the California drought from my parents, the news, and my uncle who lives in CA. There are huge fines for going over the water limits, and the current fee is 1,000. Due to so many celebrities and upper class people wasting so much water and deciding to just pay off the fine, the state is raising the fine for somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 dollars, and possibly even more in the future. It isn't all about lawns, too. A long shower can also get you a major fine, as with washing machines, dishwashers, and basic everyday machines that many, many people have.

  • DD00BASEBALL
    6/05/2015 - 01:03 p.m.

    drought-shaming is when someone breaks the rule of the water usage plans in the state of California, like you're not allowed to water your lawn.

  • EvertQ10
    6/09/2015 - 11:20 a.m.

    Drought - Shaming is when people been using to much water and other people snitch on other people for using to much water which the people from California are trying to save water as much as they can because they are loosing water.

  • Timia J.
    6/09/2015 - 11:26 a.m.

    I think that it a positive thing that celebrities are helping to raise awareness about the California drought. Many people look up to celebrities and follow their trends, so if fans see celebrities trying to help raise awareness about the drought they might follow along with them and help out also. The article gives a lot of details about celebrities and how they plan on saving water; but, as for celebrities who do not plan on helping with the drought ,for example Kim Kardashian like they stated in the article, does not need to be exposed for not helping out. It is only important to raise awareness about the drought, not to publicly embarrass celebrities that do not plan on helping.

  • GraylynW
    6/09/2015 - 11:43 a.m.

    This problem is a prime example of how we take things for granted. We as people should be very grateful for all the resources we have in life and not be wasting them.

  • jacobfrancel46
    6/09/2015 - 01:16 p.m.

    I think it's is good celebrities are helping out with the drought. It is a serious problem and we are very close to losing all of our water. We have lost a major fraction of our water resources. California could turn into a modern day dust bowl if we lose all of our water and nothing will be able to hold down the soil and wind will roll in and make ginormous sand storms. An hydrologist from NASA said California is at a great risk of running out of water in 2016. It's good they are raising awareness for a drought that is getting worse.

  • Jake7010
    6/10/2015 - 12:27 a.m.

    It's a bad thing that we can't take a real problem and take it like it is. and media has to make a big deal and thrown in fake options and stuff like that. why can't people just say water and do the right thing. and hey they can brogue some from oregon in the winter. Now some people want rain everywhere its global warming.

  • Julian10
    6/11/2015 - 12:37 p.m.

    Celebrities are playing a role in raising awareness about California's debilitating drought. Celbs are being fined for violating the water law. In Beverly hills is where most of the lawns are bright green are getting lots of water. This is all about a sense of fairness so everyone fallows the water laws. The drought continues to get worse in the state of California.

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