Actor-environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. to discuss 'Living Green' here next week

Actor-environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. to discuss 'Living Green' here next week

Ed Begley Jr., an actor known to power a toaster with his stationary bike, will talk on "Living Green With Ed" at noon Thursday, April 10, in the auditorium of O'Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Ed Begley Jr.

The talk, free and open to the public, is sponsored by St. Thomas' University Lectures Committee. For more information call (651) 962-6136 .

As an actor, Begley first became known for portraying Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the long-running television series, "St. Elsewhere." As an environmentalist, he is best-known for his reality television program, "Living with Ed," which can be seen Sunday evenings on the Home and Garden channel.

Begley has been a committed environmentalist for more than three decades, starting with the first Earth Day in 1970, which is also the year he bought his first electric car, a Taylor-Dunn, which had canvas doors and a tiller instead of a steering wheel. "I drove it around L.A. and got the reaction I deserved," he said. "People thought it was pretty nutty."

"I grew up in a very, very smoggy L.A. in the '50s and '60s. You'd have trouble breathing. By 1970, I said, 'I've had enough.'"

As a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he now drives to the Oscars in one of his newer electric cars. "Fifteen years ago people thought I was nutty; now you have Edward Norton, Leo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz taking similar vehicles."

Begley poked fun at his enthusiasm for environmental causes on an episode of "The Simpsons." It showed him driving a nonpolluting go-cart powered by his "own sense of self-satisfaction."

Begley's home is completely solar-powered and usually he rides his bike or uses public transportation. His efforts to live greenly, as depicted in his television show, have included the conversion of his water-sucking lawn to desert-friendly plants, installing solar hot water in the '80s, installing sun-tracking solar panels in the '90s, collecting rainwater in large barrel connected to gutters, and of course composting and recycling everything possible. He said he wanted to be composted in his back yard after he dies, but then added, "Just kidding."

Begley even has developed his own all-purpose cleaner, "Begley's Best," made from the extracts of pine, palm, de-acified citrus, maize, fermented sugar cane roots and olive seeds. Profits go to charity, similar to the model used by Paul Newman for his Newman's Own products.

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, Friends of the Earth and others.

He has received a number of awards for his efforts, including the Thomas Alvas Edison Award for Energy Independence from the American Jewish Congress.

Ed Begley Jr.
on "St. Elsewhere"

In addition to his work on "St. Elsewhere," which brought him six Emmy nominations, Begley has more recently been seen on "Six Feet Under," "Arrested Development," "Veronica Mars" and "Boston Legal." He also has appeared in a number of motion pictures, including "A Mighty Wind," "Batman Forever" and "The Accidental Tourist." He has directed several episodes of "NYPD Blue," written an award-winning play, and recently finished a book on living green, Living Like Ed.

To see some video segments of Begley discussing environmental topics, click here.