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Julia Louis-Dreyfus On Acting, Parenting, and Going Green

Former Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus juggles life as a working mother with a passion for environmental activism.
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Activist continued...

“I became involved with environmental activism as a two-part process,” says the actor, who over the years has emerged as an outspoken leader in the green movement and is associated with more than a dozen environmental organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Waterkeeper Alliance, the Environmental Media Association, and Heal the Bay.

“As soon as I gave birth [in 1992], I suddenly noticed issues in my own backyard. Motherhood changed everything for me.” Her “backyard” is actually the Pacific Ocean, which was so polluted at the time that swimming and surfing were often banned at her local beach. But by the time her younger son arrived five years later, her lifelong-surfer husband was again suiting up to hang ten. Louis-Dreyfus was instrumental in making the cleanup happen; she became a board member of Heal the Bay and Heal the Ocean, organizations to which she still devotes time and energy.

But meeting environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. at a dinner party in the late 1990s compelled her to do more. “Kennedy is a true leader, a visionary, and an inspirational person. He connected all the dots for me.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus on living green

Connecting all the dots meant truly re-examining how she and her family lived. “I’m a consumer,” she admitted to the environmental website Grist.org. “I love the creature comforts. I can’t live without my cappuccinos, my hot showers. Brad, on the other hand, would live in a tent if he could. … I’m not the type to ride a bike to work, but I’ll buy a hybrid-engine car. I’m not the type to cut back on hot showers, but there’s no harm in hot water when it’s warmed by the sun.”

Newly inspired, she and her husband decided to go green within their own home. In 2002 they retooled their oceanfront residence by building a retractable roof to maximize light and minimize electricity needs, installing windows laminated with heat mirrors, and adding thermal panels to heat water and return any unused energy back to the grid. The house is both stunning in its design and a model of self-sufficiency.

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