Let’s Get Dirty with Ian Somerhalder
If you love your American TV shows, you must know about Ian Somerhalder, star of the CW’s hit-series The Vampire Diaries, and if you are aware of celebrity environmentalism, you must have heard about the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF).
The Hollywood heartthrob and his foundation are launching the “Let’s Get Dirty” campaign this month, mobilizing tens of thousands to the cleanup of California.
On 21 April 2012, 80,000 people and more than 2,000 schools are expected to be participating in the campaign. Somerhalder took inspiration from the “Let’s Do it” campaign in Estonia back in 2007, that saw the cleanup of 10,000 tons of trash in a single day by the community. It was estimated that the one-day event would have otherwise cost the government €22mln (US$28.8mln) and 3 years to finish.
But the upcoming initiative does not stop with just cleaning up the streets, “an intimate evening event aimed at connecting like-minded and passionate leaders to network and brainstorm” is also on the cards.
We caught up with Ian Somerhalder to find out more about the Let’s Get Dirty campaign and what we can do to help the environment.
Q: What is the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and how did it start?
Ian: I started the Ian Somerhalder Foundation after the oil spill in the Gulf. I saw the outpouring support by liked-minded passionate people and their desire to get involved. I knew I wanted to create a place for people to be able to do that. The foundation is a way for people young and old, from all across the globe, to unite together on projects that positively impact our planet and its creatures.
Q: Have you always been passionate about the environment?
Ian: I have! Growing up in Louisiana along the Gulf Coast, I saw how delicate the world’s ecosystems can be. The planet, humans and animals are all connected. So if we pollute the ecosystem in one area, it can affect people and animals across the globe. Education and passion are key to creating a positive change and even the smallest amounts of effort can make a real change.
Q: You were inspired by the 2007 “Let’s Do It” initiative in Estonia, what was the driving force for you to do a similar project, “Let’s Get Dirty”, in California?
Ian: If you look at the basic facts of “Let’s Do It” in Estonia, you can’t help but get inspired. Having volunteers come in for one day and clean up the amount of trash it would take the government years to clean up, at a small fraction of the cost is just amazing. When you look at California, a place where I spend a good portion of time, it is hard to ignore that which is right in front of you. Countless articles tell the tale of a state who has increasing pollution, especially air and water. If we can do it in California, there is no reason other states won’t be able to follow suit.
Q: It is expected that your “Let’s Get Dirty” campaign will attract 80,000 volunteers and 2,100 schools to participate. Have you ever imagined it would receive such a great number of participants? And what do these numbers tell you?
Ian: The response for this clean up campaign, and the foundation in general, is just mind blowing. Sometimes I just have to sit back and take it all in because it is just the most inspiring thing. These numbers are proof that there are people out there who care and want to get involved. It means that we are taking a step, a leap in the right direction for creating positive change in our world.
Q: Can you run us through how the cleanup is organised? And will you be there in person?
Ian: Of course I will be there “getting dirty” right alongside everyone else. Every helping hand matters! The clean up allows children as young as five, with parental permission, to participate. Essentially, people, groups, schools and businesses can and have been registering on the website. They can choose their own location or we can place them as part of another group. They are given tools such as gloves and garbage bags and will spend a couple hours picking up trash in their designated areas. It is a really great initiative that we have been working on for several months to make it as simple as possible for those who want to participate. Volunteers will have everything they need at their fingertips.
Q: What else can we look forward to in the future from the ISF? Any other projects in the making?
Ian: ISF always has amazing things up its sleeves. We are continuously looking at new partnerships and engaging new volunteers who either contribute to new articles every month or designs for our shop on Café Press. We recently launched our hug-o-matic app through Apple and are working on a round of updates for that as well.
Q: Any message you want to share with your fans?
Ian: Wow! I think the thing I always want to say is a huge thank you, because it can’t be said enough. The outpouring of love and support that I and the foundation have seen is just unbelievable. I also want to remind people of how the little things like turning off lights and faucets make a huge difference and to keep those in mind when going about your lives day to day. It all adds up and there are things that everyone, no matter whom they are, can do.
Want to know how you can help? Visit the ISF website to find out more.