Whether rockin’ the dark hair for Xena or her new red locks on Spartacus, actress Lucy Lawless has kept one identity consistent: she’s a green Kiwi. The native New Zealander is so passionate about helping the planet that she waged a very public campaign to persuade her prime minister to get involved, too. Between being a GLBT ally and a Greenpeace ambassador, we figured there’s no one better to share a little eco insight than Lucy.
"In New Zealand, my generation has been hearing about the potential for climate change since I was about 10 or 15. Somewhere in those formative years, this was being thrown around as a possible scenario for our planet. So I guess you are receptive to those kinds of issues if you hear about them at that age. I’ve grown up feeling that this was a likely problem that we were going to deal with. And in just the last year I tried to get our conservative prime minister, John Key, to go to Copenhagen to the U.N. Climate Change Conference, though he didn’t want to. Because our farming sector puts out about two-thirds of our greenhouse gases, there was a lot of pressure on him not to rock the boat. Think about it—a factory or an industry doesn’t want to change unless it has to.
So, I went down with Jim Salinger, who is a very well-known scientist on climate change, and we went to present the prime minister with a check. We raised the money by having cake stalls and sausage sizzles, which is a very traditional Kiwi way of raising money. Cent by cent. Dollar by dollar. We ended up raising this money so that our prime minister could see it was a vote by the people. It wasn’t Greenpeace coughing up money, and it wasn’t some rich, concerned activist. This was average New Zealanders paying a dollar for sausage. So we went to Parliament to present him with this enormous check to pay for his trip to Copenhagen. And of course he bailed. The last thing he needed was Lucy Lawless showing up with a check, acting all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, saying, “We’d love you to go!”
However, in the end, the world summit was a major letdown. There was no legally binding agreement to cut emissions. It was as big a cop-out as we feared it might be, however, you have to participate. Hopefully it was a start, and the fight must go on. We’re going to do whatever needs to be done.
It has to start in your own life, of course. So I’m weening my family off plastic bags. And it’s awfully hard to remember to take your reusable bags! We all forget. But we can get real about these things and start to make little changes every day. Start by just planting something. If there was one thing you could do, be it on a window box, on your lawn—just plant something! It’s simple, and if everyone did it, it would make an enormous difference.
I’m one of the ambassadors for the Sign On campaign, which is Greenpeace-led. We want everyone to sign on to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent for 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. They are saying we actually can cut our greenhouse gas emissions to almost nothing by 2050 if we wanted to. But you know, the light bulb doesn’t want to change. So we’ve got to make people see that it is in their best interest. We’re starting to see really good models of this in communities, and the future is really bright if you look at the world that way. It can be really bright."
We’re not done with Lucy yet! Head over to the Web Exclusives page at instinctmagazine.com beginning April 1 to hear all about Lucy’s sexy new show, Spartacus, which airs Fridays on Starz.