It’s impossible to choose a favourite Friends character. But if we’re talking about which one makes the best climate warrior, hands down the title goes to Phoebe Buffay.
So she might be a little wacky, thinking her grandma was a cat and getting drunk with power over a stolen police badge, but there’s a thing or two she can teach us about being more eco-friendly.
Vegetables are life
As the only vegetarian of the group, Phoebe made it clear she did not eat “food with a face”.
When Monica brought home five steaks from the restaurant she was working at as a treat for the gang, she didn’t forget an eggplant (aka aubergine) for Phoebe.
And being vegetarian had its perks other than just saving the animals. Phoebe was able to slyly get out of eating Rachel’s royal mess up of a traditional English trifle with “beef sautéed with peas and onions”.
Phoebe even sang a song to a group of children warning them about how hamburgers are made.
“Oh the cow in the meadow goes moo, then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds him up and that’s how we get hamburgers.”
Even though veganism wasn’t as common a diet in the 90s as it is today, there’s a small reference Phoebe might’ve also been dairy-free.
Performing a song about the New York City blackout, she sings, “New York City has no power, and the milk is getting sour, but to me it is not scary, ’cause I stay away from dairy”.
Buy second hand
As much as it infuriated Ross that Phoebe hated Pottery Barn, she actually had a point when it came to consumerism.
Phoebe “hates mass produced stuff” and wanted furniture she owned to have a story behind it.
It’s easy to see where Phoebe was coming from if we take a look at the fast fashion industry now and the damage it causes to the environment.
Her love for second hand items also saw her buy a pair of shoes from Ebay. So she might’ve overpaid thinking they were Shania Twain’s but her intentions were good.
Support small and independent businesses
What do you do when you get a free gift voucher for a massage at a spa your friend disapproves of? You go ahead and use it anyway, right Rachel?
Phoebe “hates corporate massage chains” because she says they put independent masseurs like her out of business.
“Ok, this is not about the MONEY. It’s about corporate greed destroying our hearts and leaving us hollow shells.”
According to Phoebe, supporting small businesses is the way to go. Looking out for shops that are more local, avoiding purchases that are shipped from far away, and checking a company’s green credentials could all help reduce your carbon footprint.
Look after nature
She gets heartbroken when flowers die, which is why Monica advises Phoebe’s then boyfriend Gary not to buy her them when he asks her to move in together.
Phoebe also hates the Christmas tree industry for not being sustainable enough. She describes them as “innocent trees cut down in their prime, their corpses grotesquely dressed in tinsel and twinkly lights”.
She’s traumatised when visiting Joey at his part-time job selling them to see the old, ugly ones taken to the back to go in the “chipper” and be shredded to pieces.
Phoebe clearly wants to protect trees at all costs, demanding a woman who stubs out her cigarette on a tree outside Central Perk that she apologise to the tree or get arrested.
You definitely don’t want to get on the wrong side of Phoebe.
Care for animals
Do rats class as animals?
Bob, Phoebe’s pet rat, is a prime example of her nature to care for all living things. Feeding the baby rats, providing them a shoebox home, even taking them to Rachel’s birthday party, so they wouldn’t be left alone.
She’s also against hunting. No further comments there.
She disapproved of Joey and Chandler’s leather armchairs saying, “I can’t believe two cows made the ultimate sacrifice so you guys could watch TV with your feet up”.
And her iconic song Smelly Cat is all about loving a neglected cat that smells.
Phoebe has taught us so much about sustainability and caring for the planet.
Okay, so she does end up eating meat while she’s pregnant, falling in love with a Mink fur coat, working at the spa she didn’t want Rachel to spend her voucher, and coming around to the idea of Pottery Barn, but we love her for her efforts anyway.