Earth Promise Interview - Ed Begley Jr.

Ed Begley Jr. - Actor and Environmental Advocate

Ed Begley Jr., an actor on the stage, television and on the screen has been nominated for awards numerous times. Begley is perhaps best known for his role as Dr. Mark Craig’s intern, Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the television series St Elsewhere, for which he received six consecutive Emmy Award nominations. He currently has a reality show about green living called Living With Ed on Planet Green with his wife, actress Rachelle Carson.

In addition to acting, Ed has been considered an environmental leader in the Hollywood community for many years. He has served as chairman of the Environmental Media Association, and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. He still serves on those boards, as well as the Thoreau Institute, the Earth Communications Office, Tree People and Friends of the Earth, among many others.

His work in the environmental community has earned him a number of awards from some of the most prestigious environmental groups in the nation, including the California League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Coalition for Clean Air, Heal the Bay and the Santa Monica Baykeeper. He currently lives near Los Angeles in a self-sufficient home powered by solar energy.

Some other key sites Mr. Begley is involved in are Fixing the Planet, and Begley’s Best. For a full list of sites and organizations he is involved in go to his website for more details.


Earth Promise: Your care for the environment and steps to protect it are well known and you are one of the main faces of the green movement. What was your inspiration for this? Were you “green” as a child? What was your first, ah ha! Green moment?

Ed Begley Jr.: It was the first Earth Day in 1970. I had lived through 20 years of horrible choking smog in Los Angeles, and I had had enough, and decided to take action.

EP: Are you seeing an uptick in the number of eco-conscious people and also in the level they are taking their changes to help the environment?

EB: Yes. I speak all around the country, and I see folks from both sides of the aisle eager to take action to protect our environment.

EP: How would you classify being green? Is it a lifestyle or philosophy? Or put a different way, is it a way of living as part of your normal everyday routine, or is it a central belief that should guide all decision you make in your everyday world?

EB: It is both an everyday routine and a central belief that guides that everyday behavior. I try to live simply so that others may simply live.

EP: You have a lot of shows, sites, and projects that you are involved in with the environment in mind. Can you tell me about some of them?

EB: I have a show in reruns on Planet Green called “Living With Ed” that shows that has been quite successful since its original airing on HGTV.

I go around the country and speak regularly, as well as serving on many environmental boards.

EP: What are your top five recommendations for the people who want to do a self-green audit of their home?

EB: I would say these are the top five:

Energy saving light bulbs
Energy Saving Thermostat
Weather Stripping around the doors & windows
Public transportation, if available near you
Bike riding, if weather & fitness permit

EP: What are some of the things that anger you or drive you crazy that you see people do that hurts the environment? I guess your eco pet peeves.

EB: Throwing trash in the street. Pouring liquid waste down a storm drain. It’s hard to believe that some folks don’t know that that goes straight out to the ocean.

EP: One misperception I hear about a lot is that going green is expensive. Can you provide some examples for the average person on how taking steps to help the environment can also help your wallet?

EB: See the answers I gave a few questions ago. All that stuff is super cheap.

EP: In what ways will green awareness and green initiatives help us, both as a country as well as individually, during these tough economic times?

EB: We need to do the cheap and easy stuff right away. It will give us instant relief environmentally and financially.

EP: How much of an environmental crisis are we really in? What are the consequences of non-action or limited change?

EB: There are thousands of scientists who feel the situation is dire. Global Climate Change, overfishing, deforestation, water shortages to name but a few.

The sad thing is that there are economically feasible solutions to ALL of these problems.

EP: Overall, are we on the right path for “Fixing the Planet”, given the problems of the world economy, world poverty and other global issues such as terrorism?

EB: We have the right path laid out before is. We all just have to take it and pick up the pace.

EP: Do you think the lack of green innovation is somewhat to blame for today’s economic crisis? For example, if the major auto makers had been focus on making more environmental friendly cars as opposed to SUVs, they would have been in better shape (and we would too), especially given all the strides made in California to improve air quality via emission control?

EB: There’s been plenty of green innovation. The auto industry is partly to blame for promoting the SUV over all else, and so are we for responding to that pitch.

EP: We hear a lot about how to green one’s home whether online or on TV. However, most people spend 40+ hours at work whether an office, home business, office business, outdoor business (construction, landscaping, etc) and any others. What are some of the best steps people can take in their workplace when it comes to benefiting the environment?

EB: There’s much we can do at work. From recycling to car-pooling to get there to buying recycled paper, our environmental ethic should not stay cooped up at home.

EP: What causes the most climate damage in the business world and how can we fix it?

EB: Power plant emissions are huge, so any way that we can become more energy efficient at work, we accomplish a great deal. Transportation to get to work, and transportation on the job are the other big ones.

EP: The average person views the Hollywood lifestyle as being very lavish, materialistic and one filled with excess like big homes, expensive cars and clothes, etc. This of course does not apply to you!! When people think this or see this, can they take Hollywood serious when it comes to a green message?

EB: Hollywood has been a Mecca for excess for a hundred years. That has begun to change, but the entertainment industry needs to do much more.

EP: Do you think your audits that you conduct inspire the average citizen to know that a Hollywood celebrity is changing their lifestyle to be greener?

EB: I sure hope so.

EP: How much of an impact can celebrities have on leading or driving the green movement?

EB: Anyone famous in Sports, Politics or entertainment can have a very loud voice that the public often responds to. But, with that voice comes great responsibility. It must be used wisely.

EP: What is the one Earth Promise you are going to make in the future that you have not done yet?

EB: I’m going to put in an underground Greywater and rainwater collection system.

EP: Thank you very much. Your input is greatly appreciated.

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