Editor's note: This week's Ecollywood column was long, so we split it in two. Read the other half, which includes bits about Gabrielle Union and a star from 'Mad Men'.

Celebrities gathered in Santa Monica last weekend for Acts of Love, a benefit supporting the awareness-raising, research and advocacy efforts of the Autism Speaks organization. “Being a parent, it’s the scariest thing -- you’ve got a healthy child today, but it can happen when they’re older and you don’t expect it,” said actress Garcelle Beauvais, a mother of three who’s acquainted with several people afflicted with autism, including the son of actress Holly Robinson Peete. “The cause is a mystery. It’s threatening on epidemic levels, and it’s worsening,” said actor Michael Chiklis, aware of studies that suggest a link between autism and environmental toxins like mercury. “They’re finding empirical evidence that it’s true,” noted the Shield star, one of a dozen stars who read inspiring words during the program.

A dedicated philanthropist, Chiklis is equally committed to conservation, especially where water is concerned. “We have water filters in the house and we turn everything off. We’re only watering the lawn and yard twice a week. We’re trying to limit shower time for everybody.” His wife and daughters don’t object. “It’s not hard to teach that lesson when there’s a fire every week,” he notes. “Here in California we need water.”

That reality prompted Zachary Quinto to redo his landscaping with drought-tolerant plants. The Star Trek and Heroes star recycles and drives a Prius, and when the carmaker comes out with a completely plug-in model in two years, “I’ll get that too,” he told MNN. No longer shocked by the dastardly deeds they dream up for him as Sylar on Heroes, he’s looking forward to a Trek sequel. “We’re all up for it,” he said, though there’s no start date yet.

Amber Tamblyn took time out from a tour to promote her book Bang Ditto, a poetry and prose collection, to take part in the event. She raved about her new Lexus hybrid, and told us she’s cutting waste when it comes to food, something she learned from her mom. After a restaurant meal, “I always take everything home, even the bread -- I make French toast or homemade croutons,” she said. “I’ll take leftovers and make the most amazing frittata you’ve ever eaten.”

Amanda Seyfried (right, of Big Love), who makes sure to turn off lights when she leaves a room and often carpools to work, told us that her next movie Dear John, due out in February, has a character in it with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. “It’s great to connect with a community like this that’s working so hard to raise awareness,” she said.

Adam Arkin, who knows several friends with autistic children, was also eager to take part. Now playing the “truly evil” Ethan Zobel on FX’s Sons of Anarchy, he’s enjoying his role as the “juicy villain” intent on busting up the power the show’s bikers have in town. “We’re trying to be more conscious about recycling,” said Arkin, whose organic garden grows herbs, lettuces, and to a less successful extent, tomatoes. “We’re beginning to experiment with composting. Not too stinky so far,” he reported.

“We have solar power at our house and we’re trying to replace everything we need to replace with things that don’t leave a big carbon footprint,” said actress Markie Post, who makes a lot of her own clothes including the outfit she wore to the event, minus her shoes and Armani jacket. She uses leftover fabric for pillows. “I make gifts for everybody.”

Vicki Lewis, who’s guesting on Curb Your Enthusiasm this season, admitted she could be greener. “I used to drive a huge gas guzzler and I pared it down to a small sedan, and I do my recycling,” she said. “I’m good about that, but I’m not Ed Begley.” Lewis wrote, sings and self-produced an album called East of Midnight, due out next month.

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Additional photo credit: Amanda Seyfried by Gerri Miller.

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