Ask A…Green Living Expert

Ed Begley, Jr. is an actor and a green living expert.

Greener Life, Greener Wallet

According to Begley, the biggest misconception about living green is that it has to be expensive. "I didn't have the money and I certainly didn't want to get into debt," he says. He made the cheap and easy changes first and, he says, "I have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars since 1970."

Related: Living green without spending the green

Begley recommends that people start small. He notes that, for example, you could save up to $40 a month on your utility bill, which you could then reinvest in other green technologies. "You can, in a year, save a thousand dollars, easily," he says.

Related: Top 10 green myths

How Did You Get Started?

Begley got started as an environmental activist in part because of his father. "Being the son of Ed Begley, he was a conservative who liked to conserve. He turned off the lights and turned off the water and saved string and tin foil. So I got that ethic from him," he says.

First Step Is the Hardest

Begley says, "What's surprising to a lot of people is that we in the United States comprise 5 percent of the world's population, yet we use 25 percent of the world's oil and 20 some-odd percent of the world's resources."

As for why people aren't living greener, Begley notes that it's because "people are resistant to change. We all are. I am." One example he gives is the use of canvas shopping bags. "You're going to put them in your car," he says. "For the first ten times you're going to go to that market, you're going to go into the market and not remember to bring them in. But the 11th time, you're going to remember."

Saving More

Once you've gotten started, says Begley, you can afford medium-ticket items, like a solar oven or a rain barrel. After that, you can consider adding double-paned windows or an energy-efficient heating and air unit to your home. "Then you maybe go for some of the big ticket items, like an electric car and solar panels to charge that car and to run that house," he says.

Why It Matters

"The environment is not something separate. It is your own city, it is where you live, it is not in some faraway national park. The environment is right here," says Begley. "You don't have to do without. You don't have to be shivering on a rock somewhere because you're trying to save energy. You can have a warm, comfortable, pleasant life-but just not waste."

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