On April 21, the Vampire Diaries star, along with his ISF Foundation and more than 2,000 schools, will rally others to join in cleaning their local communities.
"If you were to pick up all the trash in one day by mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people to clean everything up, then we're basically going to do in one day what the government would do in three years and spend millions of dollars of tax payers' money doing," Somerhalder tells TVGuide.com.
The event is a year in the making, and Somerhalder believes that the efforts will show people, especially younger generations, just how far-reaching their impact could be. "Doing this will give people a bigger sense of pride and understanding that when you take that plastic coke bottle and throw it out of your vehicle, it ends up in our environment and breaking down into particles. You wouldn't do that in your own home," he says. "The next generation, they have that amazing connection with their surroundings, and I think the world will end up being a much better and cleaner place."
The actor promises he practices what he preaches, especially on the set of his CW show. "We've made a lot of changes, like using only compostable plates, forks, cups and napkins," he says. "I'm [filming] out in the middle of the woods and I can take this plate and go plant it in the ground, and it's going to be plant food in 20 days."
Somerhalder, who recently won a Genesis Award for his animal awareness efforts, attributes a lot of his foundation's rapid success to social media. (And the rabid fan base for Vampire Diaries doesn't hurt either!) "You could only hope that this is what's going to happen — that people take to it and want to be a part of it," he says. "People have been so phenomenally powerful and by rallying together, it builds upon itself."
So what is Somerhalder's biggest tip to become environmentally friendly? "Being aware of your impact whether it's that you turn off the lights and TV or turning the water off when you brush your teeth," he says. "There are 307 million of us in this country and each individual is powerful. It's a really cool thing at the end of the day when you go home and realize I did everything I could to make sure my [carbon] footprint is the smallest."
Check back next week when Somerhalder shares some Vampire Diaries scoop.
The Vampire Diaries returns with new episodes on Thursday, April 19 at 8/7c on The CW.