When Gabrielle Anwar was a little girl, growing up in a Middlesex, England country village, she made more caterpillar egg cartons than she can remember. It wasn’t that the actress’s family couldn’t afford toys. “We’re not big spenders and we lived a very simple life,” she says. “It was the 1970s and Green Peace wasn’t hip, but it was an emerging movement. However, I always found the green movement to be normal and necessary and I was born into it.” Anwar is easy-going and down to earth. She is known for her roles as Margaret Tudor on “The Tudors” and most currently as Fiona Glenanne on USA’s “Burn Notice.” She is also famous for dancing the tango with Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman,” but there’s no dancing around the fact that Anwar is concerned about the environment and passes down that passion to her children.
“I dread the holidays and birthdays, because it just seems like an unnecessary amount of spending and manufacturing with the packaging and shipment,” she says. “There’s a large paper trail that’s detrimental to our environment and it almost repulses me that we could have so much product. All of these products that are manufactured with plastic are not doing our carbon footprints much good.”
Instead, she encourages her children to create a gift of their own sensibility and conscious awareness. “I have them put together a gift that comes from their own inspiration, preferably using materials that are recycled,” she says. “We are literally digging up gift wrap that we used a million times.”
Her passion for the environment also comes through in the form of a hobby that fans didn’t even know about until now. Anwar loves to purchase older properties – especially those built before 1950 – and remodel and resell them. “You can’t go to Home Depot and buy new door handles for these properties,” she says. “To find the right piece, you have to explore vintage hardware stores or salvage yards and I’d rather go to the salvage yard than a good mall. You’ll find incredible treasurers and history, and there’s no damage to the environment doing so.”
The beautiful actress, who has been named one of the sexiest women by People magazine, is careful about what food she puts into her body too. “I have a little obsessive-compulsive disorder when it comes to produce,” she says. “I feel disinclined to purchase fruits and vegetables that look too pretty. The fact is that produce that’s been genetically modified is unappealing to me. It’s not pretty. I am always drawn to the spots on apples. I feel cleaner with farm to table and I feel unhealthy, lethargic and overweight when I’m not being careful with my diet.”
Since coming to the United States a few decades ago, Anwar admits that shopping in grocery stores in England is completely different than in the States. “I actually have a hard time grocery shopping here,” she says. “I frequent local farmers markets as often as I can and I don’t buy products with more than 10 ingredients. If I can’t pronounce the ingredients, I don’t purchase it.”
HOLLYWOOD AND THE GREEN MOVEMENT
If you watch many television news or talk shows, you’ll see that the green movement is catching on in Hollywood, but Anwar admits it has a long way to go. “I don’t care what anyone’s incentive is to be green as long as they do it,” she says. “Businesses and individuals who are not moving in this direction are behind-the-curve and are ignoring the facts and their own bodies. It’s sad when it comes to the generation that’s coming up. I’m all about walking the walk, but I think that it’s just incredibly important to start thinking beyond the convenience of now.”
In her Florida community where she lives, Anwar is frustrated at the lack of recycling programs. “It’s mind boggling,” she says. “I want my kids to know that this container of food they’re throwing away is not going into the outer hemisphere and dissolving. It’s filling up this earth they’re living in.” On the set of “Burn Notice,” she admits the cast and crew were going through way too many water bottles. “Trucks would deliver crate after crate of water bottles and I’ve spoken to the mayor and producers and the kids’ school, but I’m fighting an uphill battle on all of this because we’ve all become so lazy,” she says.
Anwar reluctantly says the greening efforts on the “Burn Notice” set, including bringing a water cooler onto the set and offering organic salads for lunch, were only temporary. “I love the idea of being the change you want in the world,” she says. “I start with me and hopefully it will lead into the children and the community, but here there are lots of cultures who come here from other communities and countries where recycling is the last priority.”
Anwar says that one of the things she would still like to see more of is eco-friendly clothing. “It’s very difficult to find sustainable products,” she says. “It’s also very difficult to sacrifice creature comforts when the sustainable products don’t work.” Anwar wants to start an eco-friendly yoga clothing line. “I prefer organic, not man-made, fabrics,” she says. “But I don’t look hot and sexy in bamboo drop crotch pants.”