BLOOMINGTON — Ed Begley Jr. said people don’t have to be wealthy to be environmentalists.
Installing solar panels on the home and buying electric cars may require some upfront money, but plenty of small actions are possible too, he said.
“Do cheap and easy stuff to get started,” he said Wednesday while visiting Illinois State University. “I can’t emphasize that enough. Later, you can solar-panel your house. But start small.”
The Hollywood actor who most recently starred in Planet Green’s “Living With Ed” on cable television, was keynote speaker for ISU’s Science and Technology Week.
In “Living With Ed,” viewers follow the lives of Begley and his wife, Rachelle Carson, who isn’t as passionate an environmentalist as him.
Begley described the program as “showbiz meets environmentalism. … ‘Green Acres’ for the new millennium.” It has allowed him to engage a broad audience into environmental issues, he said.
On Wednesday afternoon he took part in a question-and-answer session at Milner Library and later that night, he talked about the voluntary simplicity movement in “Live Simply So that Others Simply May Live.”
He suggested if money’s tight, people should ride bicycles more, use public transportation, recycle and make compost piles.
“Forty years I’ve been doing this,” he said recalling the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, when he said he was a broke, struggling actor.
His father, actor Ed Begley, had died just a few days prior to that first Earth Day.
“My dad was a conservative who liked to conserve. He was an environmentalist, really, he just didn’t call it that,” said the actor, now 59.
“He was an Irish immigrant who lived through the Depression. He’d tell us to turn off the lights, save tinfoil. Dad was my biggest influence. He introduced me to Scouting, to nature.”
Begley serves on several environmental boards, including for the Thoreau Institute, and Friends of the Earth. He’s been honored by California League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups.
His resume includes hundreds of films and TV credits, including “Arrested Development,” “CSI: Miami” and “Pineapple Express.”