St. Elsewhere star Ed Begley, Jr. and his wife Rachelle Carson star in the Planet Green reality TV series Living With Ed. The show follows the couple in their quest to live life with a small carbon footprint. Rachelle talked to Celebrity Baby Scoop about their 10-year-old daughter Hayden, how they live a green lifestyle, and some of her best eco-friendly tips for busy moms.
CBS: Tell us about some of the ways you and Ed are eco-friendly.
RCB: “I wan’t a big environmentalist before I met Ed. I was into other issues: Children’s issues, poverty, women’s issues were more on the forefront of my focus than the environment. When I met Ed, he was all about the environment. Back then, he wouldn’t even get in a car that had gasoline in it. He was extreme. He had an electric car and rode his bicycle. This was about 16 years ago. I would challenge him and ask ‘What’s this about the environmental movement?’ And he would say to me ‘Without the environment, there is nothing.’
We live in a very traditional valley house in the San Fernando valley like everyone else in our neighborhood, but we just happen to have solar panels on our roof. We’re still connected to the grid – we still have to power an electric car. Occasionally if it rains a lot, we will have to go to the grid, but that is rare. Everything is recycled. We have drop tolerant plants and our whole yard is filled with fruit trees. We have 4 fig trees, 3 apple trees, 3 orange and 2 lemon. We also have a vegetable garden. We live like anyone else, but we have a few more restrictions and we try a little extra to get organic foods. We’re mostly a vegetarian household too.”
CBS: Tell us about your kids.
RCB: “We have a 10-year-old daughter and Ed has two adult children from another marriage. I’m a step-mom and a step-grandma! One of our grandkids is 6, and the other is 2. They live in Oregon so we don’t get to see them too much. My grandson is almost the same age as my daughter.”
CBS: What are your tips for blending families?
RCB: “I met them when they were teenagers. I don’t know that I’ve done it so well. At first my approach was be like Switzerland and be as neutral as possible. It came back to bite me after a while because they thought I didn’t care. I always knew I was never going to replace their mother. If it’s a divorced family, it’s always difficult.
I tried to stay out of their business as best I could. It was tough. We’ve grown together and I love them. Their mom died a few years ago which was really tough. It’s hard dealing with kids and divorce. It’s very complicated. I think the best policy is to be as honest as possible.
I also had my daughter to take care of, so I could get wrapped up in her. And I think you need to put extra effort into the other relationships as well.”
CBS: So Hayden is an auntie.
RCB: “She is an auntie and loves it! She’s basically an only child. She has her sister and brother, but they’re in their 30’s. She’s into volleyball. Because we live in a different world now, I can’t just tell her to go out and play. Certainly not in an urban setting in Los Angeles.
This is a different generation. Now we have to organize their playdates and their activities and after-school classes. It’s rather structured. In the old days, you could just go out in the backyard and play, but you just can’t do that anymore.”
CBS: Tell us about the show Living With Ed.
RCB: “It came about because Ed and I are both actors. A friend of ours asked if we had thought about doing a reality show. This was a time when the green movement was starting to get some traction. He knew how we live and he likes the way we interact. He thought it would be a good show but I couldn’t imagine it since this was about 5 or 6 years ago when reality TV was just beginning. I thought Ed would never, ever do it.
We ended up giving it a try. We shot for a full day and Ed was like ‘No way, I’m not doing this, it’s way too much work.’ Then we ended up watching the clips of what we do on a daily basis that we consider normal, but other people don’t necessarily do these things. The clip stood alone on funny, aside from the educational component.
We knew it had to have an entertainment value. So we thought it would be good, but we couldn’t imagine doing a whole season of it. Now we’ve been doing it for 3 seasons and it’s simply become an endless amount of topics to cover. There’s always something more. The way we live is one thing, but then you go outside the house and you explore a lot of places where people are doing green things. We want to expose the world to it.
And it’s in a family setting. Hayden is in it when she has the time or wants to be. It’s very informative. We just bought a new house which we’re going to remodel and make it completely green. It’ll be a really good how-to. It’s been ‘info-tainment’ and seems to be what people are wanting right now.”
CBS: What are some of your best green tips for busy moms who are just starting in the green movement?
RCB: “We live in a very toxic world. We see that with our friends who have children who are diagnosed with autism and cancer. I don’t think it’s because autism is being better diagnosed, it is on the rise. One in six boys will be diagnosed with autism. That’s a huge percentage. Men come to the green movement more for energy or saving money. But women are the ones who are caring for the family.
So for moms, my biggest tip is look around your house for the toxins. Look under your sinks and look what you are exposing yourself and your children to. Something like Fantastic or Tilex works instantaneously, but look at the downsides of those chemicals going into your water stream. You are breathing those chemicals and they are going onto your skin.
The biggest tip is cleaning up your own backyard. Just purely from a health perspective. And then, start consuming less plastic. Plastic is killing us. Think about the bottle of water you just purchased. There are alternatives. Get a home water system if you can. If you can’t afford water purifiers, there are Brita water filters. Fill up your reusable water bottle and take that with you. Just look at how much plastic you consume on a daily basis. It does not go anywhere. Some things are recyclable, but we’re never going to be able to recycle the amount of plastic that we already have. It goes into the ocean in the Northern Pacific.
If you’re trying to save money, get compact fluorescent light bulbs. Start looking at your energy costs. Those are the things that you can get immediate payback on. Plastics are bad for us. They leech into the water. There is a reason why there’s an increase in breast cancer. Forty-one percent of the population will get cancer. That’s a jump! We live in a more toxic world.
Getting aware is the most important thing a mother can do.”
CBS: Are you working with any charities you’d like to discuss?
RCB: “We have a charity that we’re very involved with in Los Angeles called Green Wish, made up of local green charities. We hope it will become a franchise one day where you can support your local green charities in your neighborhood.
I am the keynote speaker at the Breast Cancer Fund, which is an organization that looks at breast cancer from the toxicity point of view. From makeup, to water, to chemicals and so on. Very important and educational. The more natural you can go the better. Parabens are dangerous and they’re in a lot of our skincare products. Skin is the largest organ in the body and we need to be educated about what we’re putting on our skin.”
** Check out the Living with Ed fanpage on Facebook.