10 Outrageous Ways People Have Shown Their Love For The Planet

mbg Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."

Some recycle their plastics. Others compost food scraps. The people on this list have taken their commitment to the environment a couple of steps (in some cases, leaps) further. While these activists may be extreme, you can't help but admire their passion for the cause. (And if you're not ready to change your name to a URL or swim in sewage just yet, here are a few less daunting ways to help out the planet.)

1. A woman staged a tree sit-in for two years.

Aptly-named activist Julia Butterfly Hill spent 738 days living in the canopy of a 1,000 year-old redwood tree to protect it from being chopped down. For two years, relied on a support team on the ground to send her food and basic supplies via rope. Relentless in her mission, she refused to descend until the tree, which she affectionately dubbed Luna, was safe from clearcutting. Sixteen years later, Luna still stands tall.

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2. A New Yorker swam through sewage.

This Earth Day, Christopher Swain strapped on goggles and a green rubber swim cap and dove into arguably the most polluted water in North America. In just over an hour, he swam the length of the Gowanus in Brooklyn – a canal known to house flesh-eating bacteria, sludge and raw sewage. The unorthodox midday dip wasn't for nothing – a cleanup of the Gowanus is now in full swing.

3. 13 people rappelled from a bridge to delay Arctic drilling.

Last month, Greenpeace activists spent 40 hours rappelling from St. Johns Bridge in Portland. They weren’t hanging out for nothing – the demonstration was meant to block a Shell vessel from passing through to a drill mission in the Arctic. By the time law enforcement officers broke up the demonstration, it had already delayed the ship’s departure by a day.

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4. PETA President asked to have her flesh burned in a human barbecue.

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk made it pretty clear that contempt for animal cruelty is something she’s taking to the grave. Her last will and testament, released to the public in October, includes directions such as, “carve out and sear some of my flesh for a human barbecue” and "vacuum-pack my liver for use in a human foie gras dish for the French." These unconventional commands were meant to draw attention to animal suffering in the meat industry. And they did, as the story was picked up by media outlets worldwide.

5. The Yes Men impersonated a BP exec and made multi-million dollar promises.

The Yes Men are professional pranksters who impersonate powerful figures to highlight corporate negligence. The duo has ruffled a few feathers over the years, but their BP stunt was arguably their most controversial. Posing as a BP and Health & Human Services rep, they gave a speech to a packed house at the 2011 Gulf Coast Oil Spill Summit. They took full responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, declared a ban on toxic substances in the Gulf, and announced a multi-million dollar contribution to recovery efforts before audience members realized they were frauds. Awkward. But Awesome.

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6. Teen legally changed her name to CutOutDissection.com.

Jennifer Thornburg, a teen from Virginia, changed her legal name to CutOutDissection.com (Cutout for short), in honor of a website of the same title, back in 2008. Her goal? To bring attention to a topic that is rarely discussed – animal dissections in schools. “I normally do have to repeat my name several times when I am introducing myself to someone new," Cutout told her local paper. "Once they find out what my name is, they want to know more about what the site is about."

7. 400,000 people marched to show the planet some love.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Al Gore – these are a few of the more than 400,000 protestors who turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City last fall. Banners declaring love for Mother Nature stretched for four miles in the largest rally against climate change in history.

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8. PETA protesters package themselves as human meat.

PETA protests are rarely for the faint of heart, and this one was no exception. Their Meat Is Murder demonstration in Times Square featured activists covered in fake blood and packaged as human meat, branded with stickers that read “billions of animals are abused and violently killed each year because you eat meat.”

9. Hundreds of students were arrested for fastening themselves to the White House.

Last year, nearly 1,000 college students gathered in DC to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline, in the generation’s largest youth sit-in for the environment. Roughly 400 of them were arrested for fastening themselves to a White House fence. Obama took note and eventually vetoed the pipeline’s construction a few months later.

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10. Activists served Vogue Editor a tofu pie.

Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue, was hit with a tofu pie as she entered a show at Paris fashion week in 2005. PETA anti-fur demonstrators threw the pie in protest of Vogue’s decision to run fur ads.

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