Vote For TreeHugger's 2011 Person of the Year

Josh Lopez, Tar Sands Action/CC BY 2.0. Shown: Bill McKibben

Each year, TreeHugger honors the people whose herculean efforts produced stand-out performances in the global environmental movement.

From a heavy-hitting crusade against junk, to the courageous people fighting financial inequality, political corruption, and environmentally devastating tar sands, to sustainable fashion entrepreneurs with unorthodox business practices when it comes to the bottom line, these six activists are using savvy ideas and hardline ambition to change the world as we know it -- for the better.

Who do you think should be TreeHugger Person of the Year? Vote below through Thursday, December 15!

1. Bill McKibben

Scholar, author, and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben is on a mission to slay the Keystone XL pipeline, a system that will cut across the U.S. and Canada in order to transport synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen.

In response to the mounting public outcry, President Obama ruled to delay it last month, but new legislation states the President has until the end of January to make a decision on the proposal.

As the one of the leaders of the campaign against the pipeline, McKibben has helped organize a human chain around the White House, spoken at Occupy Wall Street, and earned a Global Green Award.

McKibben says:

This has clearly become the environmental flashpoint, and in certain ways, the political flashpoint -- there's no other issue that's gotten this many people out in the streets in years around here.

More on Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben Versus The Terrifying Tar Sands (Podcast)
Bill McKibben Links Climate Change to Corruption in Stirring Occupy Wall Street Speech (Video)
Bill McKibben on Keystone XL: We'll See if Obama's "An Oil Guy or a People Guy" (Video)

2. Tim DeChristopher

© Tim DeChristopher. Shown: Tim DeChristopher.

This past July, for posing as a bidder in an oil and gas lease auction on December 19, 2008, Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in Federal prison and fined $10,000 -- despite having raised the $1.8 million, the total of the bid for the 116 parcels of public land in Utah, after the fact and helping to ultimately get the leases canceled.

The 30-year-old DeChristopher's impassioned speeches throughout the ordeal awoke the public eye to the auctions -- pushed through during the final hours of the Bush administration -- and drew attention to the environmental violations they ignored.

In July, Rolling Stone magazine called DeChristopher "America's Most Creative Climate Criminal."

The co-founder of environmental group Peaceful Uprising, DeChristopher is now behind bars at the Federal Correctional Institution, Herlong in California. He says:

The reality is not that I lack respect for the law; it's that I have greater respect for justice. Where there is a conflict between the law and the higher moral code that we all share, my loyalty is to that higher moral code.

More on Tim DeChristoper
Climate Activist Tim DeChristopher Convicted on Two Felony Counts
Tim DeChristopher's Trial Wasn't About Fraud - It Was About Preserving Power
Tim DeChristopher Calls for More Civil Disobedience in Climate Fight (Video)

3. Annie Leonard

© Christy McDonald. Shown: Annie Leonard.

In 2007, with a 20-minute animated video clip, activist Annie Leonard presented an in-depth and easily digestible review of our word's terribly broken trash system: The Story of Stuff. The clip now has over 15 million views and counting and is one of the most watched environmental-themed online movies of all time.

But Leonard did not stop there: She has gone on to focus on bottled water, the cosmetic industry, and more -- each time asking the question, why do we need this much stuff? With her smart, loud and clear messages, Leonard has managed to get the world to ponder consumption -- perhaps even reducing it in the long run.

In her most recent video, Leonard takes on the misappropriation of tax dollars with "The Story of Broke."

More on Annie Leonard
Launched Today: The Story of Broke Puts the Real Crony Capitalism on Notice (Video)
Annie Leonard (The Story of Stuff/The Story of Broke) Live Chat (Video)
The Story of Annie Leonard: Her Take on Stuff, Bottled Water, Cosmetics and More
Annie Leonard Looks at Cosmetics Industry: Simple, Serious, Scary (with Video)
Annie Leonard Releases New Video on Story of Bottled Water for World Water Day

4. The Occupiers

PaulS via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Occupy Wall Street movement may not immediately seem to be an environmental movement, but we believe it has been from the very start.

Why? The movement placing the 99% against the richest 1% of the world has hammered home the messy money trail and corporate influence when it comes to politics -- including climate change politics.

Occupy Wall Street has also spread well beyond the financial world, and coalesced into a movement that has raised consciousness on critical issues relating to the environment and inequality across the world; mountaintop removal mining, green building, deforestation, and the use of public green space are just a few of the diverse ideas now connected to the movement.

The fact is, we're never going to get political action on climate without finding a solution to the corrupt capitalism that holds the reins.

More on the Occupy Wall Street Movement
Occupy Wall Street on TreeHugger
Why The #Occupy Movement Is An Environmental Movement
Why Environmentalists Should Care About the Occupy Wall Street Protest
Bill McKibben Links Climate Change to Corruption in Stirring Occupy Wall Street Speech (Video)

5. Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard and Casey Sheahan

© Patagonia. Shown: Casey Sheahan (left); Yvon Chouinard (right).

Patagonia has been one of the front-runners in the sustainable clothing market for years, but lately the messages coming from the top of this company have caused some head-scratching amongst consumers -- and some "hell yeahs" amongst us. Finally, a company that gets it!

There's the "Don't Buy This Jacket" campaign launched on Black Friday last month asking consumers to reflect on their spending and then there's the brilliant partnership the company recently made with Ebay, in order to place refurbished and used Patagonia gear back on the market.

Both prove Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and president Casey Sheahan are willing to take a radical approach in order to hit home core sustainability ethics -- a welcome change.

More on Yvon Chouinard and Casey Sheahan
Patagonia: Don't Buy Our Jackets
Patagonia Says, "Buy Our Stuff On eBay"
The TH Interview: Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia (Part One)
Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard: One of America's Best Leaders
Patagonia Put Their Best Foot(wear) Forward

Vote For TreeHugger Person of the Year Through Thursday, December 15!

Read More on Last Year's TreeHugger Person of the Year, Jane Goodall
TreeHugger Readers Select Jane Goodall as Person of the Year

Tags: Activism | Green Fashion | Occupy Wall Street | Tar Sands | Tar Sands Action | Waste