Betty with a teddyBetty White, honorary forest ranger and ardent environmentalist.Photo: USDAWhite is the new green!

Did you know that the octogenarian actress is a longtime environmentalist? She’s starring in a new campaign for The Wilderness Society: “Keep it wild with Betty White!” “Wilderness is harder and harder to find these days on this beautiful planet, and we’re abusing our planet to the point of almost no return,” White said last year when she was made an honorary forest ranger.

She’s also a huge animal lover. She has long been involved with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Los Angeles Zoo, and other organizations that not only let people see animals but also that teach the importance of protecting them in the wild. Proceeds from her 2011 calendar — which features her surrounded by scantily clad hunks — are going to support the Morris Animal Foundation, which works on behalf of wildlife as well as companion animals.

White even has an eco-crush on Robert Redford. “Aside from just thinking he’s wonderful, I just love his love of nature. His films are great, but his environmental work just knocks me out,” she gushes.

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On top of all this, White has kept her carbon footprint way down by opting not to have kids, though her reasons were personal rather than environmental. As she writes in her latest book, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t):

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Barbara Walters once asked me if I ever had desired to have a child. The answer is, I never did think about it. … I didn’t think I could do justice to both career and motherhood … It’s such an individual choice.

Like so many other childfree people, she’s caught flack for this. In an interview earlier this month on public radio station WNYC, host Leonard Lopate hassled White for her decision, pointing out that plenty of other women have successfully balanced careers and parenthood:

Lopate: You’ve never had children and you write that you’re not a big believer in being able to do both — having a career and being a mother.

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White: But I meant I know a lot of girls who do that very successfully. I know myself too well that I’m so compulsive I would not to justice to them.

Lopate: Because there are a number of people who’ve talked about achieving that balance: Michelle Obama, Meredith Viera, Tina Fey

White: Meryl Streep.

Lopate: They’ve been able to pull it off. …

White: Yes, but that’s, that’s — they know themselves well enough to know they can accomplish it. I know myself well enough to know I would feel guilt about neglecting the children every time I’d go to work.

Lopate: So the career wound up taking precedence —

White: And I’ve never regretted it.

Lopate: Our next guest had four kids of her own and then adopted five kids, and she’s been a successful journalist —

White: She feels about kids the way I feel about animals.

For crap sake, Leonard, let the woman be!

White, gracious under pressure, made it clear that she’s not judging anyone else’s decision — just talking about the decision that was right for her.

Green inclinations + no kids — that would make Betty White a GINK. Add in her charm, zest, and nonjudgmental attitude, and you’ve got a model GINK.

Betty, welcome to the club!


See also: Oprah on choosing to be childfree