Whether you're an avid fan of medical dramas or if you got inexplicably hooked on Netflix's Emily in Paris last year, you're most likely pretty familiar with actress Kate Walsh. But something you may not have known about her is that she's an animal lover and environmental activist. She partnered with cat food manufacturer, Sheba Brand, to launch the largest global coral reef restoration project with something truly amazing called Hope Reef.
"I think all of us have seen how the Earth has restored and regenerated a bit in this very crazy and challenging time, during the pandemic," she explains. "So it's really incredible that Sheba is giving back, and making it easy for us to help out, too."
As a loving cat mom to a kitty named Pablo, and from growing up in both Arizona and the gorgeous coast of California, Walsh has always had an affinity for animals and conservation. But she tells us she was inspired to do something about it when she first learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
"I was sort of like, 'what do I do? What can we do?' But I think thats one of the great things about having even a little bit of success, if you can use your image to help or give back, it was sort of a natural fit for me."
She partnered with Sheba to launch the brand's Hope Reef, the world's biggest coral restoration program ever. Located off the Sulawesi coast in Indonesia, Hope Reef was constructed to spell out the word "HOPE" using restored coral from the seabed. It was started in 2019 and has grown from 5 percent coverage to 55 percent. Now, it's visible from Google Earth, and pretty soon, it will fill out with larger amounts of coral, animals, and more. The Hope Reef also has a YouTube Channel and is live-broadcasting its beauty via "The Film That Grows Coral."
For every view of the video, Sheba will donate 100 percent of the advertising money toward coral reef generation through the company's campaign partner, The Nature Conservancy.
"All you have to do is watch the YouTube channel, so who doesn’t like that?" she laughs. "Sit on the couch, with a cat, grab a glass of wine or cup of coffee — whatever your poison is — and watch Hope Reef from home."
"This last year in particular showed that little community efforts can make a great change, so it’s a pretty exciting time," she adds.
To learn more about how sustainability influences Walsh's lifestyle, we asked her to share her Green Routine with Green Matters.
GREEN MATTERS: When did you become an environmentalist?
KATE WALSH: I grew up in California in a coastal area, and then we moved to Arizona, but we always spent a lot of time camping and going to the beaches, camping on beaches, hiking, so my mom and dad and stepdad were always big advocates and great stewards of the planet, whether it was with the Audubon Society or every kind of ocean cleanup campaign. So that sort of mentality I was raised with.
GM: What is the biggest change you’ve made to live more sustainably?
KW: Like everybody, I recycle, and I recently started composting. Recently when I was in New York, I remember even in New York City there were compost centers or bins in parks. It was starting in Union Square Park. I think nothing will make you more aware of your carbon footprint than living in New York City — you’re always throwing out so much garbage! I don’t have any plastic straws anymore, I have glass containers, and I try to reuse whatever I can.
GM: What is the one tip you give anyone trying to go green?
KW: For me, I think that it's one of the easiest things you can do. I have a giant water bottle, which has made it into a few different shots in a few different projects because we were on set. I take it everywhere. And because we eat out so much in New York, bringing your own containers from home and having people put stuff in that is huge. A big thing in cities is to-go stuff. And also no plastic straws, I have metal straws I bring from home. I try not to use disposable coffee cups, I just bring my reusable home. There's so much you can start doing in little ways. And composting or even separating and starting it, there are ways to do it that are really easy. You don’t have to be a certified farmer to do it. It's just slowing down enough to be conscious. It's these little things that when people start doing it, it does matter and it does make a difference.
GM: What is the biggest misconception about living sustainably that you have discovered?
That you're going to have to make massive changes and suffer. Like it's going to become a massive sacrifice and it won’t be fun anymore. There’s a mentality that you’re gonna have to give up a lot, and that’s just not true. It's just being conscious and thinking and stopping a beat and going, "Oh hey I can just bring something in my bag and I can get my salad at lunch that way, or cook at home."
GM: What's one thing you're really loving about the sustainability movement right now?
I love what’s going on in fashion right now! Going back to vintage and re-wearing stuff — I think that’s been really cool. A big contributor to [our environmental impact] is clothing and fashion, so I think it's really great that people are really becoming conscious, and re-wearing and taking vintage fabrics to make new pieces. [This moment in fashion] is helping to tell the story of sustainability, and it's just so cool to have less, and rewear dresses over and over again, while still feeling special and great.
"Green Routine" is a series from Green Matters that invites notable people in the environmental space to share the efforts they make to live more sustainably.