Best known for her role as Brooke Davis on “One Tree Hill,” Sophia Bush and co-star Austin Nichols are hard at work off-camera, drawing attention to environmental issues near and dear to their hearts. I spoke with Sophia during on 100th day since BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded, creating the worse environmental disaster in U.S. history.
The self-described “eco geek” and budding ecoista—she’s a fan of Stella McCartney, Rogan, David Babaii and Alba—was on location in North Carolina, after returning from a recent trip to the Gulf Coast, where she and Austin joined Global Green to investigate the BP oil spill and got a first-hand look at the corporate bureaucracy surrounding the clean up. “[BP] is really perpetuating the image that they’re trying to fix this,” she said. “But really the effort is to cover up how badly they have screwed up the situation.”
Bureaucracy is not a concept Sophia supports—especially when it comes to environmental and social justice. Despite reducing her meat consumption—she’s considering vegans—shifting the “One Tree Hill” set to compostable tableware and encouraging recycling, the star remains frustrated by the production’s inability to donate excess food to a local homeless shelter for liability reasons. “I understand that everyone is scared of…something not working and it coming down on them, but we need to stop being scared and start taking care of people and our environment,” Sophia told me. “Food waste in the U.S. accounts for a crazy amount of greenhouse gas emissions—we throw out 94 billion pounds of food every year! That’s insane.”
As @aus10nichols and @sophiabush, the couple continues to draw attention to the oil spill story. “A woman wrote me from Australia that the only news she was getting on the oil spill was from my Twitter account,” Sophia said, which is ironic, considering the actress only recently set up her social media accounts—under protest.
“I met a girl who was a fan of the show and she ran up to me and said, ‘Thank you so much it’s so cool that you always respond to me on Twitter!’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have a Twitter account. I don’t have Facebook, MySpace or friend-whatever.’ And she burst into tears! It ruined her day,” Sophia said. “I almost feel like I have to do the social media stuff now in order to get rid of the people who were impersonating me doing it. Words were misspelled! Honey, I was a journalism major—if you’re going to pretend to be me online at least spell check!”
But she does have limits. “People have said to me, ‘We really appreciate what you’re doing for the environment but can you tweet about other stuff?’ Not really. I really don’t care about what I ate for breakfast,” Sophia said. The focus remains firmly on her cause.
The actress, who grew up in Pasadena, CA, attributes her interest in environmentalism to summers spent at a camp in the Sierras. “We had this phrase, ‘Pack out what you pack in.’ We never left trash or a site disturbed,” she said. “Is it worth a $1,000 fine to throw your soda can into the wilderness? How hard it is to take that plastic bottle home and toss it in the recycling bin?”
And at the end of the day, Sophia believes that environmentalism is simply about making a personal commitment: “Everything starts with one person. Gandhi was one person. Martin Luther King was one person. And look at what they did! They started these amazing social revolutions. We need a social revolution for the environment. I know that we can do it. I know that it’s possible. We just need to get everyone on board and then we’re off to the races.”
But Sophia’s personal commitment goes even further: Her goal is to inspire others as well. “We have the capability to create a revolution, but there are still people out there spewing this bile that being an environmentalist is elitist. How is having a less expensive electricity bill and buying less expensive fuel and lowering your cost of living elitist? That’s crazy talk,” she said. “I love my job and being an actor but it’s not rocket science. The thing I want to do at the end of the day is pack out what I pack in—and then pack out somebody else’s trash.”