I recently watched the entire first season of Living with Ed, thanks to Greg Glass (who has a hand in producing the show and sent me copies on DVD). I have to admit I don't watch much TV. Well, any TV, really.
But this is one of those shows that I would scrape the dust off the remote to watch, mostly because it's funny and the topic is right up my alley. The second season of the show starts its regular weekly time on Monday, August 27th on HGTV. For those of you who've never heard of it, it chronicles Ed Begley's green lifestyle and the conflicts he has with his family over his green choices.
I had the good fortune to get an interview with Ed, submitting my questions along with some of the reader's questions that were entered in last month's contest.
I thoroughly enjoyed his answers - he's heee-larious. I hope you enjoy them as well:
CC: If you could influence all Americans into making one singular change to living a greener life, what would it be?
EB: Get out of your car! One day a month or one day a week take a walk or ride your bike instead of driving. Use public transportation once a month or once a week. Pick another mode of transportation and get out of your car.
CC: What new and exciting things can we expect from Season 2 of your show, Living with Ed?
EB: We’re going OUT of our house this season to meet up with some of my Hollywood friends and acquaintances who are either doing great environmental things or who are looking for my help and advice as they start their own green journey. We’ll check out Larry Hagman’s amazing solar electric system, and I just recently watched Jay Leno install a new high efficiency gas water heater called the VERTEX that is really cool and very efficient We’re also going to visit some regular everyday folks who need help in their homes too…and hopefully help them! It should be fun. We’ll still have a few projects at the Begley home as well…
CC: The show oftentimes exposes some of the differences in thinking with your wife regarding some of your lifestyle choices. A lot of us face similar situations with our spouses and partners when trying to integrate greener changes into our lives. What advice can you give people about getting them on board?
EB: Don’t marry a crazy woman like I did!! No, seriously, everything is a compromise. I think I’m winning her over…over time. She is actually very concerned with the environment and our carbon footprint – she’s just much more interested in form and beauty than I am – I’m more focused on the functionality of things as opposed to what they look like. I’ve learned a lot from Rachelle – our home, our garden – everything looks much better than it did when I was single. There are great compromises out there. In season 2 of the show, you’ll see how Rachelle solves the issue of having more light in our home by using some new skylights…That is a great compromise.
CC: We hear a lot about some of the bigger things you do such as using solar panels, solar cookers, alternative transportation, etc. I want to go out on a limb here and ask you to describe what you do for more, shall we say, personal habits. Have you thought of a composting toilet, using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper? Do you use 100% recycled paper products? Do you hang your clothes out to dry? Or would some of these be a deal breaker with your family?
EB: Composting toilet – no, that would be a family deal breaker.
Cloth wipes – no, that doesn’t sound right for us.
100% recycled paper products – yes, our toilet paper, paper towels and home office paper are all recycled products.
Hang our clothes out? Yes we do – we’re lucky that we live in Southern California where we can do that almost all year round – and we do it a lot. It’s a great way to save on energy.
Some other things I do:
- Gardening – I grow a lot of food on-site – fruits and vegetables
- Water – I try to conserve water any way I can with shorter showers, rain barrels for watering the yard etc. I need to do more!
- Lights – CFLs all around, and shut them off when they’re not in use. I also have a GREEN SWITCH installed in the house that allows us to have a master shut off to all of the programmed outlets, so we can shut down TVs and other things that draw power even when they’re not in use.
CC: You have a book coming out next year. Can you tell us a little about it?
EB: The book is called LIVING LIKE ED and it’s really a summary of my lifestyle from the 1970s to today – all the things that I have done and continue to do to save energy, resources etc. and live a simple and healthy life. There are a lot of ‘green’ how-to books out there, but this book is more about the things that I have done and tested – it’s really from my personal experience. Every story and every tip in the book is something I have done. Hopefully, it can be a book that helps people start that climb up the mountain too. The book also has some humorous stories in it and some comments from my beautiful wife. The book also has a little checklist / workbook section where people can track their progress as they try some of the things that I do. It’s been a lot of fun working on it. It should be out around April 2008.
CC: I recently had a poll on my blog asking people to rate their favorite celebrity environmentalist and you kicked ass against the likes of Robert Redford and Leo DiCaprio. I think it really comes across that you are passionate about your beliefs and that you are willing to put yourself out there in spite of what people think, which is unusual for a celebrity. It seems like you have quite a few celebrity friends who are environmentalists. Of those, which one inspires you the most?
EB: Many celebrities inspire me – but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Darryl Hannah – she has an even smaller carbon footprint than I do. She is really dedicated.
CC: You have the new season of the show and a book coming out next year. What's the next big environmental challenge you'd like to tackle? Either personally or inspirationally?
EB: Well, as I said, I really want to find new ways to conserve water. Southern California just set a record this year for the least amount of rainfall ever! We really need to lower our water consumption. I just installed a new Toro watering system that should save me some water. My next BIG project is to build an underground cistern for storing all of the rainwater runoff from my roof and also to store certain grey water sources from the house. That is a big project I want to tackle this year!
[And now a few questions from my readers:]
CC: What do you hope to do/buy/not use this year to live greener?
EB: Again, the cistern / grey water system is a big one for me that I want to accomplish this year. I recently added a wind turbine to the roof of my garage which should make a few 100 extra watts. I’ve started looking at LED lighting as an eventual replacement for CFLs.
CC: Has "Living with Ed" changed your relationship(s) at home?
EB: Well, I hate Rachelle a little less than I used to because we are getting paid! No, seriously – we are both working very hard to make the show entertaining and it’s brought us closer together than ever. The production crew isn’t too invasive and they are great people to work with. It’s been fun for both of us.
CC: Do you find the show to be a motivator to do even more?
EB: Absolutely! I’ve gone from just thinking about getting rid of Rachelle to actually going out and hiring a hit man! Ok, jokes aside, the show has gotten a lot of my home projects on track – the wind turbine, the skylights, the new Energy Star appliances, the new cotton insulation, the Green Switch energy management system – these are all projects that I focused on getting done knowing that people would want to see how to do it. It’s been a great motivator. And, I think the payback will really put money in my pocket over the next few years. That’s the best part about it.
Thanks again to Greg Glass for arranging the interview, and to Ed Begley, Jr. for taking the time to answer our questions! (See, this is why he wins the most popular celebrity environmentalist polls.)