Emma Watson is one of those rare celebrities that we’ve watched grow up before our very eyes. After rising to prominence as Hermione Granger in the ever popular Harry Potter movie franchise, she successfully transitioned to a full-fledged Hollywood career. With memorable turns in films like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Bling Ring, Watson proved that she had staying power, and her box office prowess will be proven once again in 2017’s live-action remake of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast. But perhaps the most rewarding part of her ascendance to the A-list has been her ability to give back.
The 26-year-old star has become one of the most vocal champions for sustainability in fashion. At this year’s Met Gala, she walked the red carpet in a remarkable black and white off-the-shoulder dress with matching pants. The dress, jointly designed by Calvin Klein and consulting group Eco Age, was a magnificent statement on its own. But its beauty took on new meaning once Watson revealed it was made entirely of recycled materials.
Plastic, which is one of the Earth’s biggest environmental pollutants, served as the primary fabric. The majority of her gown was made from recycled plastic bottles. Even the smallest details from the zipper to the organic silk lining were created with a focus on sustainability.
Watson, along with other A-list celebs like Cate Blanchett and Colin Firth, is part of the Green Carpet Challenge. The challenge is a partnership between Eco Age and several luxury fashion designers. Those involved in the challenge have vowed to only walk the red carpet in 100% sustainable designs. The objective of the challenge is to encourage multiple wears and uses of clothing items. Watson posted her Met Gala gown on Instagram using the hashtag #30Wears as an example.
Last year, during the press tour for her film Regression, Watson stayed true to the mission of the Green Carpet Challenge by supporting brands with sustainable focuses like Cartier, Paul Andrew, and Ralph Lauren. The latter has become renowned for its ban on fur products.
But Watson’s dedication to sustainability goes deeper than flashy red carpet looks. In 2010, the young starlet partnered with People Tree for a 24-item collection. Every piece in that collection was made from recycled materials and organic cotton. Additionally, every item was made by fair-trade groups. To really drive the point home, the actress traveled to Bangladesh to see working conditions for herself and meet the laborers who constructed her line.
While campaigning for sustainable fashion is undoubtedly time-consuming, Watson has also become an outspoken advocate for gender equality. She was officially appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in July 2014 and made history as the youngest UN ambassador of all time. As part of her work, she has traveled to Zambia and worked on behalf of Camfed International to help educate girls in rural Africa.
She is also the primary face and advocate for the UN’s HeForShe Campaign. The campaign is a global effort created to rally everyone, including men and boys, behind the cause of gender equality. Through the campaign, visitors of the website can make commitments to spread the message and gain access to materials to host HeForShe events. In September 2014, Watson delivered a rousing speech at a special HeForShe campaign event. In the speech, she outlined the numerous inequalities that women suffer around the world. She also took time to explain the true meaning of feminism and to communicate that gender equality was the responsibility of all people; not just women.
Her speech was widely hailed as powerful, moving, and emotional. It was not only a very visible moment for HeForShe. It was a notable step forward for women’s rights.
In January of this year, Watson founded the feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf. After selecting the club’s name from suggestions by her Twitter followers, she kicked things off with My Life on the Road by legendary women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem. She made headlines in early June after selecting Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis as the club’s latest selection. Watson hopes to use the book club as a way to spread knowledge and empowerment to women all over the world.
Emma Watson isn’t just another big-named celebrity that’s more focused on stardom than social good. Through her focuses both on- and off-screen, she has proven to be a role model of substance for her generation and women of all ages. She’s a shining example of what millennials can achieve. She’s an activist that’s truly affecting change on a global scale. She’s rallying her millions of followers to join her in the fight to preserve our environment and empower our women.
Because of celebrities like Emma Watson, millennials and Hollywood alike can viewed as change agents and major players in making a difference.