2016 Planet Defender Awards

National environmental organization, Rock the Earth announced the recipients of the 11th annual Planet Defender Awards.  Based on the nominations from the community and Rock the Earth’s national volunteer network, the Planet Defender Awards pay tribute to the exceptional individuals and groups that work to protect the earth, and inspire others to do the same.  The awards recognize the work of people in three categories: artist, community leader and grassroots activist.  In addition to the Planet Defender Awards, this year Rock the Earth will honor its founder, Marc Ross with a lifetime achievement award.

The 2016 Planet Defender Award recipients are:

  • Artist: Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Community Leader: Tom Szaky
  • Grassroots Activist: Dianna Cohen
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Marc Ross

Planet Defender – Artist – Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor, producer, writer Leonardo DiCaprio founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) in 1998.  The Foundation believes that, “we can create a world where both nature and humanity can coexist in harmony.” (http://leonardodicaprio.org/) . LDF focuses on four areas: protecting diversity, oceans conservation, wildlands conservation and climate change.  DiCaprio has devoted his massive social media profile (over 25 million followers) to bring awareness to these critical issues.

Leonardo DiCaprio has a long and respected record of environmental/wildlife advocacy which, some say, culminated in this section of his 2016 Oscar acceptance speech, “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.”

Planet Defender – Community Leader – Tom Szaky

Founder and CEO of Terracycle  Tom Szaky has been on a mission to compost, fertilize and upcycleTerracycle was founded in 2004 out of Szaky’s dorm room, shared with co-founder Jon BeyerTerracycle made its name composting organic waste with worms and turning it into liquid fertilizer.  The fertilizer was then packed into used plastic bottles and branded as “Waste in Waste.” “Waste in Waste” expanded into local schools and organizations and was dubbed the “Bottle Brigade.” Additionally, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo gave Terracycle license to repurpose their products. More recently, Terracycle has taken to recycling cigarette butts for industrial products. Over the last 12 years, Szaky and Terracycle have been a true driving force behind the education of the public about the value of conservation through compost and upcycling.

Planet Defender – Grassroots Activist – Dianna Cohen

In a world being inundated by unbiodegradable trash, Artist-Advocate and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) Dianna Cohen has had successful advances with education, advocacy, and citizen mobilization to reduce/refuse the use of single-use plastics (SUP’s). Cohen has been collecting plastics and creating art installations to shine a spotlight on plastic pollution in our oceans since the 1990’s. In addition to her work with PPC, Cohen works to create Plastic Free Schools, hosts international Sea Change Youth Summits and has created Refill Revolution.  Cohen’s connections with the music industry have allowed her to obtain pledges from a variety of artists to engage in plastic free touring.  A plastic free tour refuses plastics in all aspects of touring and performing.  Artists that have pledged to go plastic free include: Jackson Browne, Jack Johnson, Bonnie Raitt, David Crosby, Dawes, Shawn Colvin and many more. Cohen’s dedication to educating the public about SUP’s over the last 25 years has had a significant impact on the way many people think about and use (or refuse) plastic products.

Planet Defender – Lifetime Achievement Award – Marc Ross

Founder of Rock the Earth, Marc Ross, an avid music fan and environmental attorney, has been at logical intersection between music and conservation for 13 years.  Since its inception, Rock the Earth has championed over 36 issues, protecting natural resources and public lands around the country.  Ross established partnerships with some of the biggest names in music, drawing attention to important issues, but also showing artists how to leverage their public platforms for good. During his tenure with Rock the Earth, Ross was instrumental in: halting unsustainable drilling on 55,000 acres of public lands on Colorado’s Roan Plateau by bringing a successful lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management in federal court, stopping the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) refinery in Australia’s Kimberley region through submission of more than 1,200 letters to Chevron in collaboration with John Butler, protecting Browns Canyon as a National Monument (on February 19, 2015, President Obama declared Browns Canyon a federally and permanently protected National Monument) and many, many more victories.

Ross is a contributing author to the Huffington Post, most recently with an article on “Water Wars”.  He is also the recipient of the E-Chievement Award and the Mimi Fishman Foundation Community Service Award. Ross lives in Denver with his family and continues his support for both Rock the Earth and environmental advocacy in all that he does.  Rock the Earth is thrilled to bestow upon Marc Ross, the Rock the Earth – Planet Defender Lifetime Achievement award.

About Rock the Earth

Rock the Earth is a national 501(c) (3) public interest, not-for-profit environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and defending America’s natural resources. We act as advocates to ensure the existence of a sustainable and healthy environment for all and represent those individuals and communities whose environment whose natural surroundings are directly and adversely affected by others. Thanks to generosity and support of a network of music industry partners and the world wide environmental community, we are able to carry out grassroots organizing, education, and legal action to mobilize public support and empower social change. Please visit www.RockTheEarth.org for more information.


Source: Rock the Earth


Categories: Non Profit, Environmental Protection, Artists

Tags: advocacy, Earth Day, environment, sustainability