The 15 Must-See Green Shows On TV Right Now

In my quest to find the best eco programming out there, I endured a green TV marathon, during which I sat through dozens of hours of enviro-themed shows: specials, regular series, network, cable, news and weather channels.

My once-green eyes have turned red, my DVR remote thumb is raw, and my REM sleep is overrun with images of global warming, endangered species and, even scarier, a couple of corny TV “personalities.”

Here, in no particular order, is the best of what’s out there:

1. Big Ideas for a Small Planet

(series, Sundance/SUND) Last year, longtime activist Robert Redford announced a much-anticipated green block of programming on the Sundance Channel, and “the kid” did not disappoint, starting with this gem of a show. Simplicity rules with each episode exploring a single topic like water, kids, work, cities and fashion.

In the gadgets episode, we learn that “electronic gadgets have greatly improved energy efficiency, yet their toxic components can be harmful to the environment.” Local green heroes and activists across America drive each show, giving the series a homespun, accessible feel. Their stories are interspersed with scientists and eco experts but it’s never a lecture…just the facts, ma’am.

2. Focus Earth with Bob Woodruff

(series, Planet Green/PLGN) Anchor Bob Woodruff‘s weekly eco newscast explores everything from climate change impact to world events. In a recent episode Woodruff checks out Sarah Palin‘s environmental track record and delves into how the greening of Wall Street (a green collar workforce and eco-friendly jobs) will affect our future. Packed with facts, debates and interviews, and moving at the brisk pace you’d expect from an ABC News production, this show makes a difference.

3. Living With Ed

(series, Planet Green/PLGN) Props to Planet Green for plucking this show from HGTV, who unceremoniously dumped it. Yes…Ed Begley, Jr. lives! Sure, Ed’s scenes with his “holdout” wife Rachelle can seem contrived as they often wink to the camera, but at the heart of this show is Ed himself, a true eco warrior who deserves all the screen time he gets. Ed is like the uber nerd who grew into a thoughtful Earth daddy and was at it way before many of us even cared. His wife and daughter are fun accessories, but the real story and soul is Hollywood’s green guru.

In this show, celebrities flock to Ed to get secrets and in turn, he puts the spotlight on green stars and their innovative lifestyles. Ed’s rivalry with neighbor Bill Nye “the Science Guy” (see “Stuff Happens”) is particularly fun to watch; one can’t help but believe some of their repartee is actually real competition.

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Hollywood Celebrities Build Green Homes

The 90210 zip may still be home to the massive mansions we first caught glimpses of on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” but these days The Clampetts are converting their estates to green, and not the kind you roll in. It seems the Beverly Hills City Council is borrowing a page from the eco-friendly handbook by offering incentives for homeowners to build or remodel in an energy efficient manner.

The famed city also recently passed a Green Building ordinance mandating environmentally friendly requirements for commercial and multi-family developments. We can only hope that speculator Donald Trump is mindful of these eco initiatives since lately he’s been snapping up several acres of properties around the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Happily, there are many Hollywood-types we can count on to pave the way toward eco-conscious abodes. Take Johnny Depp-in 2005, the star converted his Bahamas island home to run on solar hydrogen technology. Depp’s eco enlightenment may have rubbed off on his “Pirates of the Caribbean” costar Orlando Bloom. Last year Bloom built an enviro-friendly house in London. “It’s as green as I can make it,” Bloom said on green design website Inhabitat. “It’s got solar panels on the roof, energy efficient light bulbs-newer technology basically that is environmentally friendly.”

johnny depp and orlando bloom

Then there are stars that take it to the max, like musician and longtime activist Jackson Browne. His Malibu ranch home is completely off the grid, and is far from running on empty. The airy barn-style house has two loft bedrooms, two guest bedrooms, skylights and tons of windows. “It’s made out of masonry and rebar in a way that it stays cool all year round,” Browne’s live-in girlfriend Dianna Cohen told “Living with Ed,” a Planet Green series starring Ed Begley, Jr.

Browne’s dwelling is powered by wind turbine and solar panels; a solar-weather measuring station sits atop the property and a well provides water. “I regard this place as sort of an ongoing experiment,” Browne said. “I think if you set out to do it all at once, it might seem like a huge expense, but we’ve done it a little bit at a time.” Maybe Browne can share his expertise with Dennis Haysbert (“24,” “The Unit”), who is reportedly building his own off the grid Malibu digs.
ed begley, jr., jackson browne and katey sagal

Ed Begley, Jr., Jackson Browne and Katey Sagal.

“Everybody Loves Raymond” producer Phil Rosenthal may not be off the grid but his house is eco-friendly cool, replete with recycled cork floors, denim insulation and a waterless urinal. Rosenthal and his actress wife Monica (she played Brad Garrett‘s wife on “Raymond”) even recycled the show’s set furniture-Frank and Marie‘s kitchen table sits in their guesthouse.

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