In 2005, as a response to the war in Iraq and an urge to support American farmers, Willie Nelson launched Willie Nelson Biodiesel to sell BioWillie, his personal brand of alternative fuel made largely from soybeans. "I knew we needed to have something that would keep us from being so dependent on foreign oil, and when I heard about biodiesel, a light come on, and I said, 'Hey, here's the future for the farmers, the future for the environment, the future for the truckers," he told The New York Times in 2005. Nelson centered operations at a plant he co-owned in Oregon, along with his Texas truck stop Carl's Corner, and the following year brought the company to California. But although it was good enough for his own Mercedes, the high prices — biofuel can cost over $1 more per gallon than diesel — contributed to what wound up a struggling company. Still, Nelson's other environmental exploits have thrived, such as Farm Aid, the concert series he co-founded to support American family farmers, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010. He's also collaborated with Ben & Jerry's to sell "Willie Nelson's Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream" with all proceeds going to Farm Aid, and has joined the Animal Welfare Institute to support the protection of wild horses.
Photo:Willie Nelson presents BioWillie biodiesel fuel at the Sustainable Biodiesel Summit in San Diego, California, February 8, 2006.