Sophia Bush on How Her Passion for Climate Change Would Inspire a 'One Tree Hill' Reunion (Exclusive)

Though One Tree Hill ended its nine-season run a decade ago on The CW, the mega-popular teen drama is one that fans still can't get enough of. With streaming keeping the show fresh for new audiences, Sophia Bush is well aware of its hold on fans and the plea for a spinoff or reunion special, especially with the revival of the series through her podcast Drama Queens with former co-stars Bethany Joy Lenz and Hilarie Burton. But will it ever happen? 

In an exclusive with PopCulture.com to help showcase the importance of addressing climate change with 3M Climate Innovation Center, the award-winning actress, activist and Drama Queens podcast host admits that though the answer for a continuation — whether it be a spinoff or a movie — was "no" for a long time, things are always up for discussion. 

"I think for us, the answer was no — and then we decided to take back our show by doing this podcast [Drama Queens]. And now I don't really know. We're only in Season 3 in the podcast, we have so much to get through before we're at the end of the show, before we could consider doing something else," Bush told PopCulture. "But we are having a really good time, so I will say, I don't think it's necessarily a wall anymore."

The idea for a possible One Tree Hill return is a "funny" one for Bush whose latest partnership with 3M — which is working to advance decarbonization technologies by showcasing the power of science to address climate change during Climate Week NYC — ties perfectly to a conversation she had with her co-hosts, Lenz and Burton.

"What's funny about this conversation — about climate and the podcast — is that all three of us either live on farms or ranches. We have become the ladies who plant things and cultivate animals, and we ship our honey back and forth. And when Hilarie and Jeff are up on the farm in New York and it's frozen tundra, Joy and I are sending fresh fruit from California. It's like we truly — your gals from TV have all become these sustainability-obsessed women in our personal lives. And so part of me is, I don't know, is Tree Hill going to the farm? Maybe," she said. "That might make me more excited than anything and probably the girls too. I'll talk to them about it after our Zoom."

Sharing how it's "high time" everyone starts taking the data seriously for climate change, Bush admits that while she knows it can be a "stressful and scary" situation when the UN Climate Report states we're on track to inhabiting an "unlivable planet," helping educate others about solutions through innovation is why she is so excited about her partnership with 3M and its focus on expanding research and development into emerging technologies focused on decarbonization and renewable fuels. "I think that that's where you start to look to help the helpers. You start to look for the hope, and what excites me when we talk about design is that there are people who are designing for sustainable futures, who are designing actual climate solutions that can be used by individuals like you and me, but that can also be done at massive corporate scale in the B2B space. So when a city is building a new sports stadium, it can be sustainable and that's what we need," she said.

Adding how that's all "part of the reason" she is excited about the opening of the Climate Innovation Center with 3M at Battery Park, Bush says as a "tactile lover of design," the educational hub is a "literal place where you can go and touch everything and learn about what solutions are available to us right now." 

To help demonstrate the power of how people and science can address climate change, 3M solutions for decarbonization, electrification, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and sustainable infrastructure will be on interactive display in New York City at The Battery during Climate Week NYC, Sept. 20 to 22. These innovations represent a portion of 3M's broader cross-industry climate portfolio, which has the potential to deliver scalable impact in some of the most critical industries, including manufacturing, transportation, construction, and retail. 

With climate change being an urgent issue she is most passionate about as she works to raise environmental awareness and practices what she preaches most efficiently, Bush says her need for getting involved with 3M stems from her journey a long time ago when she hosted the Do Something Awards in 2011. "We did a Post-it wall of motivational notes, and I am a Post-it person in a way that I cannot quite explain to anyone and that was when I first met all the 3M folks. It was really over years of learning about the research they've been doing on climate projects that they launched in the '80s to start creating innovations that are available to us now that made me feel so excited," she said. 

Bush reveals the changes she has made to help make a difference, stating how, for example, she now uses Stasher bags instead of plastic and bought an electric car this year. But as the solutions seem minuscule, Bush says she still wonders if it's enough. "To know that so many of us feel that way, so many of us want to see [corporate social responsibility] in a real way — we want to see corporations investing in a better future, and we want them to do it at scale," she said. "To know that that's happening and that things like concrete can become sustainable, that won't actually be a pollutant; to know that roof tiles are being made that reflect 25% of the sun's energy, which mean buildings will need less air conditioning, which means we won't have rolling blackouts during heat waves like we just experienced last week in LA. These are real solutions for people."

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She goes on to add how there are all these "incredible things being made possible by innovation right now" and as consumers, she wants to help them to go make a difference however they can. "When I encourage people to go out and use their voice as activists and citizens, we have to say to companies and to our government, 'We want these solutions!' We have to say at our town halls, 'What are you doing to build our city sustainably? How is our infrastructure in the country being done in a way that will help us battle climate change?' And I'm just so happy to have some good news. I'm so happy to know that it's possible that there are solutions out there because it's been a real stressful couple of years."

3M Climate Innovation Center, Climate Week NYC 2022
(Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for 3M)

As Bush helps raise awareness with 3M for Climate Week, individuals can join 3M and drive a positive impact on the climate issues they care about most. The company is facilitating a donation to a group of nonprofits via GlobalGiving. By visiting Climate Innovation through Friday, Sept. 30, members of the public can vote for the cause of their choice and help designate what portion of the donation will go to a corresponding nonprofit. This donation builds on an annual commitment of nearly $2 million in environmental philanthropy from the company via 3Mgives, its community investment arm.