What happens when a self-described princess marries the greenest guy in Hollywood? Some organic reality television! Planet Green's Life with Ed documents Ed Begley Jr.'s life with his wife, Rachelle Carson-Begley. "My husband's a star, but he's decided we won't live in Beverly Hills," she says. "Instead, we have our charming little house here in Studio City, complete with a white picket fence made entirely of recycled milk jugs."
Their 1936 home is the model of energy efficiency. Instead of simply turning on the toaster in the morning, Ed has to ride an energy-generating bicycle for 10 minutes! "I try to see things his way, but we're just different," Rachelle says.
Ed says he's been living green since 1970. "It was the first Earth Day, and that was a big moment for me," he says. "I'd lived 20 years in smoggy L.A. After 20 years of that horrible smog, I wanted to do something to make a difference."
Ed says he started small—planting fruit trees, installing ceiling fans and buying an electric car—and has incorporated more green technology in his life over the years. Now, Ed has energy-generating bicycles, rain barrels to collect water, solar panels for lighting and solar ovens at his home.
Still, Ed's not content just yet. He's working on a solar panel remodel that will bring his electric bill down to $100 a year! "I think I need to simplify even further," he says.
Rachelle has traveled to The Oprah Show to talk about their eco-friendly lifestyle, but Ed has decided to use Skype™ instead—he didn't want to leave a carbon footprint behind! "Look at how great this is—just electrons moving over the Internet," he says.
Ed says he will fly occasionally to talk about environmental issues, but he tries to make up for the energy he's using. "I buy a carbon offset from Terra Pass to mitigate that CO2," he says.
Rachelle says she doesn't regret her decision to fly to Chicago. "The lighting is so much better here, isn't it?" she jokes.
You don't have to have a Hollywood salary to make a difference, and Ed says a garden is a great way to start. Ed and Rachelle grow many fruits and vegetables in their backyard—and Rachelle has brought Oprah some homegrown lettuce and olives! "We maybe produce 25 percent of our food," he says. "But that's 25 percent that's not trucked in with a lot of fossil fuels."
People can also save energy—and a lot of money—by using ceiling fans to cool their homes and by installing energy-saving thermostats. "Rachelle figured it out years ago," Ed says. "She said: 'You don't really care about the environment. You're just cheap.'"
Despite their varying shades of green, Rachelle says her marriage has thrived thanks to humor. "When I met him, let me just say this—he was more extreme," she says. "He really wouldn't get in a car. He wouldn't get on a plane. He wouldn't throw anything away. I mean, furniture from high school. ... He's definitely loosened up a lot."
Ed and Rachelle have a daughter named Hayden. So what does she think of her green lifestyle? "It's the Stockholm syndrome—she identifies with her captors," Rachelle jokes. "She knows no different, so she thinks it's abnormal to go to a home and see people throwing cans and bottles in the trash. She will pick them out."