GREEN LIVING SHOW A celebration of green renovations and products, alternative transportation and more includes an appearance by Ed Begley Jr., Saturday (April 26), noon. April 25 and 26, 10 am-9 pm; April 27, 10 am-6 pm. $12, adv $10.50; stu/srs $9, adv $8. Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place. http://toronto.greenlivingshow.ca. Rating: NNNNN
You were one of Hollywood’s first actors involved in green issues. Were your parents environmentalists?
My dad [Oscar-winning actor Ed Begley] was, without ever using the term. He was a conservative who liked to conserve. He saved string and tinfoil. I was raised with that discipline.
Did you ever have a rebellion phase when you were a teenager, saying “I’m going to throw my foil in the garbage!”
I got it from an early age. Suddenly, deposit return bottles were gone and they had these new bottles you could just throw in the trash. When they took my money away, that got my attention. I started to think, “Where does all this trash go when we throw it away. Where is away?” I learned that what was away for me was next door for somebody else.
What are your thoughts on Hollywood’s new green focus – people like Paris Hilton getting hybrids. Do you worry that some people are jumping on the bandwagon because it’s cool?
Entertainment’s been known as a world of excess for many decades. But now there are a lot of people – myself, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah – who care deeply about environmental matters. It’s not a fad for them.
On your TV show Living With Ed, your wife isn’t always so keen on your green ideas. How do you deal with loved ones who don’t share your intensity about the environment?
I was dead set against the show, but [my wife] Rachelle wanted to do it, and it turns out it was a good way to get my message across.
You’re still riding your stationary bike to make toast in the morning?
Yeah, I can make toast with the energy I create riding hard on the bike for 15 minutes, or I can run my computer for a day, or a light bulb for a day. I can use that power for anything.
Strangest thing you’ve ever done for the environment?
Besides riding my stationary bike, probably driving my electric car nine miles each way to go recycle my cans and bottles in the 70s. The car had a top speed of 20 miles an hour.
What are you driving now?
I have an electric car that goes a lot faster, 80 miles per hour. I drive it much slower than that, of course. But that’s fourth in my transportation hierarchy behind walking, biking and public transportation.
You don’t often see celebrities on the bus, I’m sure.
I enjoy it, and people are quite nice on public transportation.
Ed Begley Jr. on his green cleaners:
Ed Begley Jr. on being spoofed on The Simpsons: