Every year, the Community Environmental Council (CEC) presents an Environmental Hero Award to at least one eco-pioneer on the Main Stage at the Earth Day Festival. We choose our heroes based on their efforts to educate, inspire and grow a new generation of environmental advocates and socially responsible citizens.

The Community Environmental Council (CEC) proudly announces Congresswoman Lois Capps and plastic-free advocate 5 Gyres as recipients of the 2016 Environmental Hero Award, granted as part of CEC’s annual Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival. Both Capps and 5 Gyres co-founder Marcus Eriksen will be present on Saturday to accept the honor in person and speak about their work to protect and preserve the natural environment.

“The concept of climate change can feel overwhelming when looked at as a whole,” commented Sigrid Wright, CEO/Executive Director of CEC. “Congresswoman Capps, through progressive legislation, and 5 Gyres through the research and advocacy of co-founder Marcus Eriksen, both exemplify the power we as individuals have to effect positive change in the face of global warming. We hope Earth Day attendees walk away from this year’s festival and embrace the practical changes they can make by voting to support environmentally sound legislation, like the plastic bag ban in California, and by choosing to eliminate single-use plastic from their lives.”

2016 Lois Capps & 5 Gyres

Congresswoman Lois Capps is the 2016 Environmental Hero

Congresswoman Lois Capps has been at the forefront of efforts to protect the environment, leading movements to prevent new oil and gas drilling off our coast and on the public’s lands and to protect consumers from shouldering the financial burden of cleaning up pollution in their water supplies. She sits on the Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Health, Energy & Power, and Environment & the Economy subcommittees. She is co-chair of the National Marine Sanctuary Caucus, and the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. From these posts, Capps focuses on energy policy and the protection of our air and water, as well as Medicare reform, the nursing shortage, cancer, and mental health.

5 Gyres is the 2016 Environmental Hero

5 Gyres was founded by researchers Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummin in 2009. 5 Gyres has led the effort to research aquatic plastic pollution and to find solutions for regaining a plastic-free ocean. Aiming to empower citizens to become leaders in combatting the global health crisis of plastic pollution, they work to understand the impact of plastic pollution by sailing through and studying the 5 subtropical gyres, organizing research expeditions (16 to date) with scientists, journalists and other sailors who work side by side with the crew to conduct the science, and return to their communities engaged to promote solutions.

CEC’s past Environmental Heroes have included:

2015 Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben, author and environmental activist who has written extensively on the impact of global warming. He is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and leader of the anti-carbon campaign group 350.org. He has authored a dozen books about the environment, including his first (The End of Nature) in 1989 about climate change.

2014 Salud Carbajal

Salud Carbajal - 2014 Environmental Hero ©Matt Perko

Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara County Supervisor first elected to the County Board of Supervisors in March, 2004 and most recently re-elected in June, 2012. He serves on President Obama’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Local Government Advisory Committee.

2013 Van Jones & Bill Nye

Environmental Hero - Bill Nye

Bill Nye, educator writer and TV personality best known as the host of the Disney/PBS children’s science show Bill Nye the Science Guy (1993–1998) and for his many subsequent appearances in popular media as a science educator.

Environmental Hero - Van Jones

Van Jones, green jobs activist, commentator, author and attorney. He is a co-founder of several non-profit organizations, author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Green Collar Economy and Rebuild The Dream, and has served as President Barack Obama’s Special Advisor for Green Jobs.

2012 Selma Rubin

Selma Rubin

Selma Rubin, the late Santa Barbara activist and co-founder of CEC . She served as a member or adviser for more than forty nonprofit and community organizations spanning more than 57 years.

2011 Daryl Hannah

Environmental Hero - Daryl Hannah

Darryl Hannah, actress and environmental activist who has taken direct action to protect urban farms, halt mountaintop mining, promote renewable energy and protest the Keystone XL pipeline. She hosts her own weekly video blog called DHLoveLife on sustainable solutions and is best known for her performances in the films Blade Runner (1982), Splash (1984), Roxanne (1987), Wall Street (1987), Steel Magnolias (1989), and Kill Bill (2003).

2010 James Cameron

Environmental Hero - James Cameron

James Cameron, filmmaker, inventor, philanthropist, and deep-sea explorer well known as an advocate for a vegan diet and broader environmental efforts. His hits include The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Titanic (1997), and Avatar (2009).

2009 Elon Musk

Elon Musk - from http://farm4.static.flickr.com

Elon Musk, founding CEO of Tesla Motors with special interests in and focus on sustainable energy production and consumption as well as high-speed, hyper-efficient transportation (Hyperloop).

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