A Greener Future
A Greener Future
Ed Begley, Jr. (Environmental Activist) gives expert video advice on: What do you want the next generation of children to know about green living?; Will green living make me healthier?; How easy is it to live green? and more...
What is "green living"?
Green living, I think, is living sustainably. We get to be here right now today, sitting with this equipment, lights and camera and all of it, because people lived fairly sustainably. There have been gold rushes and extractive industries, and people lived kind of wild for a while when they thought the Wild West was endless and the resources in other parts of the globe were endless. However, mostly, over our history, people lived within their means. More often than not, people lived with some sense of environmental stewardship. Indigenous people did, many European cultures did and still do, and so I think that we really need to live green more than ever now that there are six billion of us. It's fine to flail around and have a big party when you've got room to do so, but suddenly when you're in a very crowded room and there are six billion of us, there has to be a certain amount of etiquette: "I'm sorry, I need to move over there right now, would you mind stepping aside? Thank you. I'd like to get some water. Would you hand me that?" People have got to co-operate or nothing is going to work. That's where we're at now. We have six billion people on the planet; we all have to cooperate or it's just not going to work.
What events in your life made you decide to live green?
The event that really made me embrace green living was Earth Day 1970. There was suddenly 10,000 people I think in the mall in Washington. Keep in mind what effect that had. That led very quickly to Richard Nixon, a Republican, signing the Clear Air Act and the Clean Water Act. He saw the writing on the wall. Suddenly you have 10,000 people on the mall celebrating Earth Day and demanding accountability for some of these things. But, what lead to that? What came before Earth Day? I ‘ll tell you what came before that and why people wanted the clean water act. You had the Cuyahoga River catching fire. That was an event that caught people's attention. Rivers are not supposed to catch fire. They are supposed to be water. They are supposed to put out fires, not start them. When that caught fire, people said maybe we should clean up our rivers. What else happened in 1969 that got people's attention that lead to the first Earth Day? The moon shot. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went to the moon and took casabla beautiful pictures there and brought them back and suddenly we had a sense of the splendor and entity that was the Earth. We looked at it as one. We looked at it as the whole thing, this beautiful water plant there. It is a great picture. It is the most reproduced picture in our world history, that picture of Earth taken from the Moon so we had a sense of that. We also had a sense of how fragile and precious life was because they looked on the Moon and they could see no evidence of life on the Moon. So, life became more precious for me because of the first Earth Day and the events that led up to it.
Is green living being taught in schools?
Green living is being taught in schools to a certain extent. I don't know that there is a lot of environmental literacy out there among our young people. I think green living needs to be taught more and I think it needs to be taught better. To show people that there's a bottom-line aspect to green living, that it's not going to cost in the long-run - it's going to save people money if they behave in an environmentally responsible way.
What do you want the next generation of children to know about green living?
I want the next generation of children to know that green living is possible. They can still have a cool beverage and a warm shower, but we need to let them know that we can just do it more efficiently, and that they don't have to sacrifice anything severe. They don't have to sacrifice or endure anything severe. They might have to make some sacrifices of things that in my opinion are nonessential. Look at the point that we are at in our nation's history. We have these men and women dying over in Iraq. There's no big sacrifice people are doing here to support them. In World War II people were gathering tires because there was a shortage of rubber. They were saving tinfoil. There would be a drive to get as much copper or steel together as they could, to help build warships. Nobody's sacrificing much at all. People are tooling around in their SUVs. There's no sense of sacrifice, but we've asked these people to sacrifice so much overseas. So I think we need to make some changers, and I think we can do it without any serious consequence.
Will green living make me healthier?
I really think green living will make you healthier. If you have a non-toxic home I think that's going to be better for you. I think if you eat well or eat properly it's going to be better for you. I eat a diet that is mostly, nearly exclusively, plant-based material, and it's a good way to eat. I feel very healthy. I'm 57 years old and I feel great all the time, so I think eating healthily and avoiding hazardous chemicals is really essential to our long-term well-being.
How easy is it to live green?
I find it very easy to live green. I've been doing this since 1970, so it's second nature to me. I'm talking on the phone and the stuff just goes in the recycling bin, my paper recycling bin. I have a junk mail bin. I have coloured paper, white paper; I sort it out to get the highest use out of it at the recycling centre I go to. It's just second nature. I don't think about other things that I do in the garage or in the kitchen; composting or what have you. I'm just talking and suddenly there's a whole compost thing there in the kitchen and suddenly it finds itself outside in the bin without my even having to think about it. It becomes second nature.