jack johnson
Photo: Hilary Walsh
No one knows balance like a surfer. Former big-wave pro Jack Johnson strikes an equilibrium between music superstardom (more than 18 million records sold to date), family life (the tour for his latest album, To the Sea, out this month, is planned around his kids' school breaks), and the needs of the Earth (his touring profits go to his Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation for environmental and social initiatives). "No matter how down you get about the world," the 35-year-old Hawaiian says, "you have to jump in and joyfully participate." Here's how he does it.

He finds lyrics in the darndest places. "When my little boy was 3, he put a quarter in his mouth; I grabbed it away and made him promise never to do that again," Johnson recalls. "That day, I wrote the line 'Don't put your money where your mouth is, baby—we don't want to see you choke.' It wound up in the new song 'At or with Me.'"

He gives credit where credit is due. "My name is on the foundation and green initiatives, but my wife, Kim, is the driving force. She jokes that her job is to take the spotlight shining on me and turn it toward more important things."

He's making rock 'n' roll go green... While other touring acts demand Dom Pérignon or no brown M&M's, Johnson's concert rider includes requests for compact fluorescent bulbs and recycling bins. "We want to lessen the negative impact of touring and leave towns in slightly better shape than when we showed up," says Johnson, whose bus runs on biodiesel fuel.

...And he's kicking his plastic habit. "The Hawaiian Islands are like a filter for floating debris in the Pacific—the east side is just a wall of plastic bottles and bags and junk," he says. "So I feel embarrassed if I walk out of a store with a plastic water bottle in one hand and a single-use bag in the other. Right now a lot of people are thinking about the little changes they can make—there's a subtle shift happening in our social consciousness."

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