Environmental crusader and star of The Vampire Diaries Ian Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore) has been busy launching world-changing partnerships. In addition to his work with his own organization, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, Ian has been teaming up with companies that want to positively impact their consumers. 

His latest partnership is with Cree, a company that manufactures energy-saving, affordable LED light bulbs. Wetpaint Entertainment spoke with Ian about what makes them so revolutionary. We also couldn’t resist getting a little taste of his appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live tonight.

Wetpaint Entertainment: You just got back from South by Southwest. How was that?
Ian Somerhalder: I did. Yeah, that was incredible, man. I think this weekend was literally one of the — it was the most important place to be in the world. The smartest guys in the room, all in one place, just drinking bourbon and stuff, and talking about how to change the world. Pretty incredible.

Tell us about your new partnership with Cree LED light bulbs.
It is really cool, because of the generational aspect of it all. I mean, Cree has basically invented this light bulb that basically looks like an incandescent light — meaning the form of it — what we’re used to seeing and buying, and then the look of it, the type of light it is.

They can make it warm, which you can’t do with contact fluorescence. And if you have incandescence, they’re just sucking so much power. [The Cree light is] using 84 percent less energy, which is just huge. It’s huge.

I think that is the big, game-changing stuff that we all want to see and want to be involved in. And I’m really excited to be part of this partnership and to launch this product out into bigger markets, because I think, honestly — there’s a 10-year warranty on a light bulb, and that’s never been seen before. I think it’s really gonna blow people away. I’m excited to be a part of it, and that’s always a really positive thing to be part of something like this.

So you’re helping raise awareness to Cree?
When companies don’t necessarily do traditional advertising, it just makes a lot of sense to form a partnership where there’s a real message. They’re not just trying to sell you a light bulb. They’re literally changing the consumer market and the world, so it’s awesome.

What are some of the things you’re doing to raise awareness?
Social media is what’s really gonna make this pop. It’s spreading that word, that’s going to make such a huge, huge impact.

[Note: At this moment, a girl was chasing Ian’s car down 5th Avenue in NYC. He stopped to take a picture with her, but he’d really prefer that fans not endanger their lives to do so.]

So, what I was saying was, social media is what’s really going to be able to move this message in that matter, in that expedient manner. That’s why I’m stoked about it, because again, if you want change, it really has to be generational, because of bureaucracies that are in place.

You and me and all of us, our peers and what have you, they’re not going to change. But that next generation, if you’ve educated and empowered and sort of activated them, then you’re really going to get a generational paradigm shift. That’s really what we’re aiming to do — not only ISF, but with this product. It’s the young people coming out; they’re going to be driving the market. It’s awesome.

It sounds like it’s a fairly easy change to make. 
You know, I think it is a major change. I feel very fortunate to have, as an entertainer, now with social media, you have a lot of outreach. So, when you’re driving down the road at night, and you’re looking at all these houses or apartment buildings — I’m driving through New York City right now — if you were to look at all these buildings, if you think about it, if we all cut our power consumption by virtue of using much more efficient things like lighting, compressors in our refrigerators, what have you, air conditioners, then all of a sudden we’re alleviating this massive need for all this power. And I’m not making it doom and gloom, I’m trying to make it a positive thing. But our really incessant, insatiable thirst for power is what’s kinda destroying us, you know what I mean? So finding ways around that is really sort of the way into a more sustainable future. You gotta make that a positive thing. You have to. People think it’s already over and it’s all doom and gloom. What’s the incentive for them to invest in something like this? 

It’s pretty cool, man. It’s really cool that they’ve developed this light bulb that’s going to change the consumer market: 84 percent less power usage and a 10-year-warranty and, you know, 10 bucks at Home Depot. 

Since you were on Watch What Happens Live recently if you were on a Real Housewives show, what would your tagline be?
What would my tagline be. Wow. I don’t even know. You know what mine would be? Come to flavor country. That’s awesome. That’s like the old Marlboro ad. Come to flavor country.