Being married to one of the greenest men on the planet sure puts the pressure on a person. Just ask Mrs. Ed Begley. Actress Rachelle Carson Begley, an eco-activist in her own right, concedes that living with Ed — also the title of the couple's HGTV show — raises the environmental bar pretty high. "Sometimes if I'm driving crazy in my car, I think, 'Oh gosh, my reputation! I'd better be careful.' Ed keeps me in check," laughs Begley, who despite her in-house advantage insists she's "only two steps ahead, if not one — or behind — anyone else" when it comes to eco-knowledge. "I'm certainly no expert."
Toward that end, she's constantly educating herself on new ideas, research, products and services in the green world. "I'm always interested in new green vendors, anyone that's attempting to be green — I want to give them the support," she says, explaining her presence at the Green With Music pre-Grammys retreat and spa, where she got an organic spray tan to show off at a party she'd attend with her husband. She was also trolling for ideas to use on the next season of Living With Ed and for another TV project she plans to pitch, geared toward women and focusing on "health-mind-spirit."
Begley describes the show as "green, but not for people who are granola-green, more Beverly Hills green, women who aren't green and who want to do something but don't know where to start, so they don't do anything." She believes that if women were better informed about what they were eating, feeding their children and putting onto their skin, they'd change in a minute.
"The beauty industry is a toxic waste dump of petrochemicals," she says. "What they can't sell, they put in our cosmetics. It's no accident that cancer is on the rise, and Alzheimer's, autism. We have a dirtier planet than ever, and they've proven there's a link to cancer. Think about how many times a day you breathe, ingest or put on your skin something that's toxic. You've got all this external toxicity, plus you're stressed out and you may even have a genetic component. So why not mitigate it? It's a way to get people who haven't thought about green before to start thinking."
If nothing else, she continues, playing the kid card is a good motivator. "People can relate to their children being sick. Everyone wants their children to flourish and be as healthy as possible. They may not do it for themselves, but they'll do it for their kids."
Begley, mom to daughter Hayden, 8, advocates starting with organic baby products from birth. "You go as natural as possible, certainly with what you feed your child, with as few pesticides as possible. I know it's not that easy and not that cost-effective and many people can't afford it, especially right now," she acknowledges. "But think outside the box." For instance: buying farmers market produce and making homemade baby food in a food processor.
Begley recently learned that not all reusable water bottles are alike. Stainless steel is better than aluminum, which has a plastic inner coating. "We want to get away from plastic, and there have been links to Alzheimer's with aluminum," she says.
She has also been investigating green cleaning services and wishes there were similar ones for cars. "If you go to the car wash, they use dry cleaning fluid to clean the cloth seats, and it's like wearing dry cleaning fluid on your body — you're in that enclosed space. We don't even realize it," she says.
Begley wants to get the word out about these things in a fun way, without scaring or lecturing people, "I'm all about entertainment. I'm not going to preach," she says. "It's about providing information and entertainment in the same package."